Welcome to the Age of Selfie Elbow

It was only a matter of time. As our phones have morphed into our mirrors, and thence our windows to the world, the science of selfie-taking has grown ever more elaborate. Front-facing cameras have gotten sharper, clearer, brighter, and better. And that’s before you add the hobby shop of dedicated hardware you can buy to nail just the right angle.

But all this selfie sharing comes with a downside. (No, not that one.) The very act of holding the phone out at an odd angle while framing up frequent shots can take a toll on your elbow, as Hoda Kotb recently relayed:

“When you take the picture, your arm is up, bent in a weird way and you just click, click, click — think about how many you take: 20, 30, or 40. Selfie elbow, everyone has it!” she told Elle. . . .

I hear you asking these questions, so I’ll remind you that a UK study last year showed that young women spend five hours a week taking selfies.

This is in one sense repetitive stress like any other, but it seems we humans have found another new way to torture our elbows and joints in unnatural positions. Try it for a few minutes and you’ll see the problem: strain on the elbow and tendons creates instability and pressure, which can lead to chronic elbow pain.

What’s the answer? Turn the phone around and photograph the great world beyond your face. Or, failing that, make sure to rest and stretch often in between shots.

When Your Elbow Swells Up

Waves were made last month when NBA MVP Stephan Curry banged his elbow and was forced to finish out a game with a sizable goose egg on the joint – an injury some compared to a tennis ball. Miraculously, he recovered almost immediately and went on to win that series. Curry has continued to play at or near his gargantuan potential ever since.

In fact, this recovery wasn’t so miraculous – it was the common response to an injury known as olecranon bursitis:

Olecranon bursitis – which is common although the exact incidence is unknown – happens when the bursa, which is a slippery sac over the elbow which allows the skin to slide easily across the bone when it is flexed, becomes damaged. This causes it to secrete a much greater than normal volume of fluid into the closed cavity of the bursa which makes it inflate like a balloon.

Olecranon bursitis looks bad, but it’s not terribly serious. Given some time to rest and heal, the fluid drains of its own accord and most people can return to their regularly scheduled activities without any lasting injury. Although infections may arise or the condition may become chronic, the vast majority of these cases are transitory at best.

Want to understand elbow injuries better, and get the best treatment for elbow pain in San Diego? Contact my offices today.

When to See a San Diego Orthopedic Surgeon

Anyone who has ever dealt with chronic pain knows it can hard to assess when the treatment should escalate. After all, we’ve gotten pretty good at managing chronic pain with therapy, steroids and painkillers. But each of these approaches has serious limitations: in the case of drugs, for instance, there are very real dangers to maintaining a high dose of powerful narcotics.

Orthopedic surgery is the next logical step for most patients. Unlike ongoing medication designed to manage the pain, surgery gets at the root of the problem, relieving the primary issue. If damage to your muscle, cartilage or tendons has become so advanced that the body can no longer heal itself, then it’s time for orthopedic surgery.

As a San Diego orthopedic surgeon, I see many patients complaining of shoulder pain, elbow pain, hand and wrist pain, or knee pain. Each of these may be caused in turn by any of several dozen causes, from arthritis to cancer. The only way to know for sure where the is to conduct a full diagnostic assessment here in the office.

If your chronic pain has graduated to something you can no longer simply manage, it’s time to visit an orthopedic surgeon. Call Dr. William Holland to get a full evaluation today.

When to Worry About Everyday Elbow Pain

Most of us experience elbow pain at some point in our lives. Whether it’s an ulnar nerve bang or the strain of heavy lifting, these pains typically go away on their own.

But as people grow older and engage in more intensive activities such as exercise and yard work, they may discover that the pain tends to linger longer and longer. Symptoms such as tennis elbow no longer require a racket or ball to make an appearance; many people feel the same aching soreness because of simple household tasks.

So when is it time to visit an elbow pain specialist in San Diego? This article describes what you need to know:

Applying ice and taking an over-the-counter pain medication can help. If simple at-home measures don’t work, your doctor can prescribe a brace or a special type of strap can be worn around the arm to avoid aggravating the tendonitis.

And if that doesn’t work?

If you’ve suffered with tennis elbow for 6 weeks or longer, your case may be on the tougher side and it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.

To speak with the best orthopedic surgeons in San Diego about some conservative options today, contact the elbow pain experts here.

When Elbow Surgery Becomes Elbow Replacement

Some of you may have just read my prior post on knee pain and its discontents. This one focuses on its upper body analog, the elbow, and the many ways that pain, inflammation and injury can impede the body’s natural ability to bend and use this major joint.

Elbow surgery can be as minor as a tendon repair or as major as a full replacement. Understanding when and why each procedure is indicated is the role of your orthopedic specialist, who will take you through a range of diagnostic exercises to determine the best course of treatment.

If the joint requires replacing, the procedure can be lengthy and the recovery difficult, but there is an upside: you should regain some measure of freedom and mobility once again.

Some people can start to use their new elbow as soon as 12 weeks after surgery. Complete recovery can take up to a year. There will be limits to how much weight you can lift. Lifting too heavy of a load can break the replacement elbow or loosen the parts. Talk to your doctor or nurse about your limitations.

If you have lived with impaired movement or chronic elbow pain for too long and want to speak with a team of orthopedic surgeons in San Diego, please call or write my practice here today.