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What is Hyperextension Injury of the Elbow?

Hyperextension injury of the elbow occurs when the elbow joint is bent beyond its normal range of motion, causing damage to the bones and ligaments of the elbow. It may also cause elbow dislocation. The condition is more common in tennis, football, weight-lifting and contact sports.

Picture of Hyperextension Injury of the Elbow


Patients with a hyperextension injury of the elbow often experience a popping sound, followed by instant pain. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain when moving or touching your elbow
  • Swelling or stiffness in the injured elbow
  • Loss of arm and elbow strength
  • Muscle spasms in the biceps


Your doctor will evaluate the injury by reviewing your medical history, performing a thorough physical examination and ordering X-rays to rule out any fractures. MRI and CT scans will help detect any soft tissue damage.


Your doctor will first recommend conservative treatment options. These may include:

  • Limit use and rest the elbow from activities that worsen symptoms.
  • Braces may be ordered to decrease stress on the injured tissues.
  • Ice packs applied to the elbow can reduce swelling.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications may be ordered to treat swelling and discomfort.
  • Physical therapy may be ordered to promote stretching and strengthening, once symptoms have decreased.

If conservative treatment options fail to resolve the condition or your elbow is severely fractured or torn, surgery may be recommended. Following surgery, you are referred to physical therapy to improve the range of motion and strength of your joint.