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What is an Elbow Brace?

By Nat Robinson
Updated Feb 06, 2024
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An elbow brace is worn to support the bone and muscles of the elbow if they are damaged due to a disorder or injury. People with injured elbows often experience pain; this may be caused by sprains and fractures, which are common elbow problems. Other common problems include golfer's elbow, cubital tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow. A brace may be worn on the elbow to relieve pain and assist in the healing of any of these ailments.

A sprain of the elbow is one common reason for wearing an elbow brace. Overstretching or tearing a ligament surrounding the elbow may result in this type of injury. This type of injury is often painful, and if the sprain is severe, the elbow may also swell. A brace may be worn to support the elbow and prevent further damage as it heals from a sprain.

Fractures are also a common elbow problem. An elbow fracture can happen due to a hard fall, or in an accident or during physical activity. If the elbow receives a traumatic blow, tiny pieces of bone within the elbow may break. A severe fracture may need the assistance of an elbow brace to properly heal the broken bones.

Golfer's elbow, also referred as medial epicondylitis, occurs in the inner elbow. This repetitive motion injury causes inflammation in the tendons of the elbow. Pain may radiate when these inflamed tendons are used to bend the wrist forward, and activities that result in twisting of the wrist may be especially painful. Although playing golf is not the only cause of this disorder, a golf player or other physically active individual may wear a brace to lessen pain.

Cubital tunnel syndrome can be another reason for wearing an elbow brace. The syndrome is caused by pressure on the ulnar nerve, which is a main nerve of the hand and arm traveling behind the elbow. Symptoms include pain and numbness of the hand and fingers. Wearing a brace on the elbow can provide added protection for the ulnar nerve. This may be especially helpful for people who place their elbow on surfaces for extended periods of time.

Tennis elbow is another repetitive motion injury, and causes inflammation of the outer elbow. Also called lateral epicondylitis, it is one of the most common elbow problems. One of the main treatment options for tennis elbow is wearing an elbow brace. Bending the wrist backward may cause pain to radiate in individuals with this condition. The brace will help to relieve pressure in the elbow upon movement.

The methods of treatment for elbow problems will vary according to the severity of the problem present. Anti-inflammatory medications and resting the elbow are often the first courses of treatment. If these options fail to help, a doctor should be seen to explore the extent of the elbow problem. An elbow brace is commonly used to treat problems that may take an extended time period to heal. Many braces are relatively inexpensive and can typically be purchased from a pharmacy or orthopedic store.

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Discussion Comments
By Dulmaris29 — On Jul 27, 2018

Not certain about the points made but ,if anyone else needs to find out about how do you cure tennis elbow try Imforda Elbow Relief Guide (Have a quick look on google cant remember the place now ) ? I've heard some unbelievable things about it and my mate got great success with it.

By burcinc — On Sep 21, 2014

Unfortunately, the commercial elbow braces don't work too well. They often don't fit well and fall apart quickly. It's better to get one through the doctor's office from a producer of medical equipment. Some companies even offer custom made ones. Anyone who needs a rehabilitative elbow brace should not be relying on a commercial one in my opinion.

By serenesurface — On Sep 20, 2014

@ZipLine-- The immobilizing elbow braces cannot be used regularly. They are used right after injury but the sleeves can definitely be used to protect the elbow.

I injured my elbows lifting weights in the gym. They were basically sprained. But wearing elbow support sleeves that apply some compression to keep the bones and ligaments together have solved this problem.

I think it's better to be precautionary and use elbow sleeves in the gym before it becomes necessary to way braces.

By ZipLine — On Sep 20, 2014

I developed Golfer's elbow. I tried to ignore the pain for a few days but finally went to the doctor when it did not improve. He said that it's tendinitis, the term for tendon inflammation. He prescribed some topical pain relieving ointments and told me to take an oral pain reliever if the pain is unbearable. I was also directed to wear an elbow brace.

The topical creams helped with the pain but I must say that the brace was the most helpful. It prevented me from bending my elbow and the pain started subsiding after just a few days. Of course, resting is important too. No more golf for me, at least for a little bit. I might wear an elbow sleeve in the future to prevent this injury from occurring again.

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