The Elbow - An Anatomical Overview
An Anterior view basically means the front view. This "Anterior View" of the image to the right is showing the muscle and tendon layers of the right arm from the front side. The medial epicondyle area (source of Golfer's Elbow pain) are on the "inside" of the elbows (closest to the torso) whereas the lateral epicondyle is located on the outside of the elbows (away from the torso).
A Posterior view basically means the back view. This "Posterior View" of the image to the right is showing the muscle and tendon layers of the right arm from the back side. The lateral epicondyle area (the troublesome spot for Tennis Elbow) is best shown from this view.
The elbow is made up of a simple hinge joint that connects the upper arm bone (humerus) to the forearm bones (the radius and the ulna). The actual joint is made up of the humerus and ulna; the bigger bony prominence at the end of the ulna is called the olecranon. The bony bumps found at the bottom of the humerus are called epicondyles; they are found on either side of the olecranon. The elbow is a stable joint that has a lot of muscles, tendons (smooth, strong fibers that attach muscle to bone) and ligaments (fibers that attach bone to bone) crossing it. These tissues allow the elbow to move and act like a hinge:
- Bending your arm and wrist towards you (flexion)
- Straightening your arm or bending your wrist away from you (extension)
- Twisting your forearm or palm of your hand down or inward (pronation)
- Twisting your forearm or palm of your hand upward (supination)
Common Elbow Diagnostic Tests
A medical professional will sometimes recommend diagnostic testing to obtain more detailed information, and assess the amount and/or type of damage done to your elbow . There are a variety of different tests available to help them analyze the situation; and the recommendation will be dependent on your injury.
X-rays will provide an image of the overall structure of your elbow, including the ability to quickly determine potential bone damage. It is helpful in identifying abnormal bone shapes, fractures, arthritis, and degeneration (wear and tear) within the joint. It can identify loose bones (sometimes a result of sharp impact) and bone abnormalities that may mimic a tendon tear.
CAT scans (or CT - computerized tomography) can be used to provide a 3-dimensional assessment of the bones and soft tissues in and around your elbow joint and may be used to identify a ligament or tendon tears.
MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) will provide more detailed information and will help to evaluate the soft tissues in and around your knee joint (muscles, tendons, ligaments, menisci, other connective tissues). It can identify ligament and cartilage damage, and help to determine the extent of your injury, the displacement and degree of your tear, fluid in the elbow, tendon / ligament tears, and/or other associated conditions.
The type of test recommended will depend on your symptoms and the opinion of your medical professional. Other methods such as electromyogram or arthroscopic surgery can be used to determine more information if required.