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Ask Dr. Arun Phophalia Your Own Question
Dr. Arun Phophalia
Dr. Arun Phophalia, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 31330
Experience:  MBBS, MS (General Surgery), Fellowship in Sports Medicine
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I cannot straighten my right elbow - at all. I cant even force

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I cannot straighten my right elbow - at all. I can't even force it straight using my other hand. I have a torn RC (Infraspinatus Tendon) in the left shoulder and have spent quite a few weeks relying solely on the right arm. (RC Surgery schedule for a month away) The pain came on over night; one morning I woke up with my right elbow hurting so badly I could cry.. When I tried to straighten the arm, it would not straighten beyond 150 - 155 degrees. There is considerably pain at 155 degrees, and the arm hangs at 150 degrees when I'm standing relaxed. Additionally, the top (outside) bone in the elbow is so tender till a simple bump against any object sends me to my knees. I can fold my arm all the way up, I can rotate my forearm and wrist. There is *some tightness and pain when I am flexing my hand into the fist position. I did see a PA about this. I was given Flexeril and sent on my way. (I cannot take steroids or NSAIDS due to the torn Infraspinatus and a condition called Barrett's Esophagus). My elbow has been locked for 4 weeks. Wraps, compression wraps, heat, ice, arthritus balms, epsom salt soaks... nothing has helped at all. With pending RC Surgery on the left arm I certainly need full use of my right. Can you tell me where to start? What could it be? What questions should I ask the PA to get her as concerned as I am about this?

Hello Victoria ,
I am Dr. Arun and will be helping you today.

Is there any swelling or redness around the elbow joint?
Was there any unaccustomed activity one month ago which may have predisposed it?
Any past or family history of arthritis?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

There is no visible swelling around the elbow. Other than household chores (sweeping, mopping, etc) there was not any unusual activity. There is a history of arthritis, maternal grandmother.

Hello Victoria,

A sudden onset (with no predisposition) a monarticular (single joint), arthritis is one of the possibility. A combination of bursitis and tendonitis are the other possibilities of the diagnosis. Ideally an MRI should be done which delineates the joint as well as the soft tissues around it. So exact ailment can be ascertained. Blood work like rheumatoid factor, C-reactive protein, serum uric acid also would be recommended for the ascertainment of the cause.. Following treatment would be advised;

1) Physical therapy
2) Acupuncture
3) Deep electrotherapy; electrical stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, short wave diathermy etc.
4) Narcotic analgesics as you cannot take NSAIDs.

Please feel free for your follow up questions.

I would be happy to assist you further, if you need any more information.

Thanks for using Just Answer.


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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. I will take your advice with me in mind and followup with my doctor.

You are very welcome, Victoria.

It is privilege assisting you.

My best