My elbow is not a noodle!
May 18, 2008 12:10 PM   Subscribe

2.5 years postop for a badly fractured non-dominant elbow (long since fully rehabbed, which I even finished early), I am doing more physical activity. It's sore, which I expected, but not in the way in which I figured. Tips?

Since healing, I haven't had any problems in normal activity of any sort, including moving heavy things and repetitive motions. I have never been very sporty, so doing more physical activity (weightlifting included) is out of the ordinary for me.

Lately, I've been going to the gym twice a week for about half an hour of weights, among other things, and I'm on a very low-key softball team. Sometimes when I'm weightlifting, I will get a rather sharp pain that says, "Hey, quit it!" One day I decided to work through it, so I did a few very light reps using my dominant arm more, and it went away. I figured it was probably just incredibly tight due to disuse (of that particular motion), given that I know it's been fully healed for a long time now. Even so, it seems to get more sore than the other one, and I'm not really sure how to deal with it.

Should I just treat it like a regular sore joint? Should I try to do some extra stuff to re-rehab it somehow and bring it back up to snuff? Should I mention it to my PCP the next time I'm in for, say, a sinus infection?

You are not a doctor, my doctor, Dr. Phil, nor even Dr. Nick.
posted by Madamina to Health & Fitness (3 answers total)
Yes, do mention it to your doctor next time you're in there for whatever (if people brought up more "hey, this little thing has been minorly bugging me lately" stuff when they went into their docs for unrelated things, I think a lot more bad stuff would be caught early on). In the meantime, I would suggest stretching the arm and moving it around prior to exercising it. Just making it aware of the fact that it's going to have some action might help to loosen it up. Also, if you remember any of the activities you were told to do during your PT, it couldn't possibly hurt to do those, just to get the arm strengthened and prepped for a heavier workout.
posted by phunniemee at 12:27 PM on May 18, 2008

IANAD, just a similar patient: badly fractured non-dominant elbow, 2 years post-op here. I haven't experienced the symptoms you describe, but I also haven't tried lifting weights (though I've lifted other heavy stuff with both arms. ) The one thing I'd say is that, in my experience, understanding what's going on inside the elbow is very specialized knowledge, and your PCP, or even a general orthopedic surgeon, may not have much of an answer for you. My sense is that only the surgeons who practice hand surgery and the physical therapists really have the chops to talk about this stuff.

The thing is, the anatomy inside your elbow is probably not the same as it was before you broke it. The bones are shaped differently, the nerves may be in different places .. if it were me, I'd feel better getting authoritative advice before trying to work through the pain.
posted by escabeche at 1:18 PM on May 18, 2008

If it were me, I'd go back to physical therapy. Three or four short sessions will probably work wonders. The PT can help you design a lifting regime and the massage/electroshock therapy thing will help a ton with respect to loosening tight muscles. I had great success with a short course of PT five years after I broke my wrist when I was having trouble learning to do a new activity.
posted by crazycanuck at 1:43 PM on May 18, 2008

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