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Examination of the Elbow

  • Davide Blonna
  • Enrico Bellato
Chapter

Abstract

Together with a detailed history, the clinical examination is the initial assessment to make a diagnosis and determine treatment. Careful scrutiny can reveal bony alterations, angular deformities, soft tissue swelling and muscle atrophy. The main structures to be palpated are the epicondyles, the ulnar nerve, the olecranon bursa, the radial head, the arcade of Fröhse, the lacertus fibrosus and the distal bicep tendon. A standard position of the elbow to evaluate the range of motion is mandatory to obtain reliable results. Several specific tests are also available to investigate symptoms on the medial, lateral, anterior and posterior aspect. Medial symptoms can be caused by medial epicondylitis, medial collateral ligament tears or ulnar nerve problems. Lateral symptoms can be a result of lateral epicondylitis, posterolateral rotatory instability or plica. Distal biceps pathology is the main cause for anterior symptoms, while posterior symptoms can be due to posterior impingement or triceps tendon condition. Finally, apart from a thorough elbow examination, the physician must consider pathology from the cervical spine, the shoulder and the wrist.

Keywords

Elbow Examination Visual assessment Palpation Range of motion Symptoms Test 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Most of what the authors have learnt comes from daily clinical practice, cadaver studies, and the considerable teaching provided by Dr Shawn O’Driscoll, during fellowship at the Mayo Clinic.

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Copyright information

© ISAKOS 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Davide Blonna
    • 1
  • Enrico Bellato
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Orthopedics and TraumatologyMauriziano-Umberto I Hospital, University of Turin Medical SchoolTurinItaly
  2. 2.Department of Orthopedics and TraumatologySan Luigi Gonzaga Hospital, University of Turin Medical SchoolTurinItaly

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