What is Elbow Joint Dysfunction?

Elbow Joint Dysfunction is the term used to describe a number of elbow joint injuries that affect the function of the elbow. These include traumatic, biomechanical, hormonal, inflammatory or degenerative changes. These injuries may cause hypomobility (less movement) or hypermobility (more movement). This altered function can cause further problems with the surrounding muscles and ligaments resulting in elbow, shoulder, wrist and hand pain. There are three main types of joint dysfunction in the elbow. These are a radioulnar, humeroulnar and radiohumeral.

1. Radioulnar Joint Dysfunction

The distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ) is located at the wrist and it acts to stabilise the articulation of the radius around the stationary ulnar forearm bone during supination (rolling palm face up) and pronation (rolling palm face down). The radioulnar joint is one of two articulations between the radius and the ulnar bones of the forearm. As the two bones run parallel, they join both at the elbow and at the wrist. Biomechanically, the DRUJ relies on other structures such as radioulnar ligaments, triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC), interosseous membrane and joint capsule of the wrist for stability. The radioulnar ligaments connect the articular disc and distal ulna. The interosseous membrane stabilises this joint longitudinally. These membranes are important in stabilising the DRUJ under dynamic movement such as combinations of rolling and sliding movements under heavy loads. Dysfunction at the DRUJ could impact the wrist, hand and elbow as the two forearm bones run parallel from the elbow to the wrist.

Dysfunction (disruption of its normal abilities) of either of the two joints causes elbow joint dysfunction. The most common cause of DRUJ is the fracture of the distal radius. Three causes that result in radioulnar pain and limitation of forearm rotation are instability, joint incongruency (parts of an articulation, which normally should be touching, are no. longer in contact but articulate with other portions of the joint), and ulnocarpal abutment (ulnar bone knocking or rubbing against the lunate bone).

Symptoms of DRUJ include; Pain and tenderness, inflammation and swelling, reduced grip strength, reduced range of motion, popping or clicking sound, instability, weakness and loss of function of the forearm.

2. Humeroulnar Joint Dysfunction

The humeroulnar joint is the joint between the humerus (arm bone) and the ulnar (forearm bone on the little finger side of the arm) that helps form part of the elbow joint.

Symptoms and causes are similar to Radioulnar Joint Dysfunction.

3. Radiohumeral joint dysfunction

Radiohumeral Joint: the humeroradial joint is the joint between the humerus (arm bone) and the radius (forearm bone on the thumb side of the arm) that helps form part of the elbow joint.

Symptoms and causes are similar to Radioulnar Joint Dysfunction.

Risk factors for dysfunctions of the elbow joint could involve acute trauma such as fractures or dislocations, or more chronic issues such as osteoarthritis. Other causes maybe from overuse of the elbow, epicondylitis, malignancies.

Here at Precision Health we offer services such as chiropractic care and massage therapy which can aid in your recovery from Joint Dysfunction.

Call (02) 9639 7337 or visit our website to book an appointment now!

Arias DG, Black AC, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Distal Radio-Ulnar Joint. [Updated 2023 Jul 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547720/

Advanced Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Dista Radioulnar Joint (DRUJ) Arthiritis. [Updated 2023 Sep 06] In: Advanced Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine [Internet]. Houston (TX): Advanced Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Available from: https://www.advancedosm.com/distal-radioulnar-joint-druj-arthritis-orthopaedic-sports-medicine-specialist-cypress-houston-tx/

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