Elbow Ligament Injuries

Although ligamentous injuries are rare, patients may present with laxity due to overuse or trauma. Lateral Collateral Ligament injury is often associated with trauma and forceful motion into varus.

These injuries are commonly associated with a fracture or subluxation at the elbow joint.

An Medial Collateral Ligament tear or sprain could occur with valgus overload or stress movement from throwing or hitting.

Typically seen in younger throwing athletes, a MCL tear or sprain could also be found in athletes involved in repetitive overhead activities like tennis or climbing.


Just like the knee the elbow has two collateral ligaments that help to stabilise the joint. They run allow the medial (inside) and the lateral (outside) of the joint. There is also a third ligament called the annular ligament this encircles the head of the radius, stabilizing it in the radial notch. All three of these ligament can be sprained with an acute trauma or repetitive overuse.

In more extreme cases an avulsion fracture can occur, This often occurs on the inside of the elbow and is throwing related. Large forces go through the elbow, especially if you have poor technique. As a result, the ligaments stretch, tear and sometimes a small fragment of bone can come away also.


Treatment is often the same whether there is an avulsion fracture or just a sprain.

More severe avulsion fractures or fractures in children may require casting for 6-8 weeks to allow the bone to heal.

Following this, a period of rehabilitation will be required to ensure that full strength and mobility are regained.

Rest – from all activities which stress the elbow, or increase symptoms. For mild injuries, this may mean a short rest period and if caught early enough simply modifying the technique may be enough. For more long term chronic injuries or severe acute injuries complete rest may be necessary.

Apply ice – or cold therapy to reduce pain and inflammation.

Identify causes – it is particularly important to identify causes such as poor technique and overtraining. This is because simply returning to old habits will cause the injury to recur

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