Wanna play doctor? or Diagnose this injury! (not life threatening, WAGs welcome)

So here’s a little background to begin:

I’m a 47 yr old woman, in relatively good shape, I weigh a little over a hundred pounds and used to have pretty good muscle tone. I have always been wiry. I have also be described at times as scrawny and stick like but that’s just appearances.
Here’s how I did this. I was incorrectly using a power tool. Relax, nothing got sliced. I was using a reciprocating saw for the first time.

(It’s also called a framers saw, I believe. It’s often used for cutting down interior walls. It’s about a foot and a half long, not counting the blade and has a trigger on the hand grip, it’s electric.)

I was using it to cut up some branches from the yard, for firewood. Thought I’d use the power tool as there were quite few and I thought if I used the hand saw I’d end up with a stiff shoulder.I wish.

Though I’d never used this tool before I had seen it used and thought I had it figured out.

Long story short, I failed to remember that when I saw it used the operator used both hands to hold the saw. Because I’m too short to put things up on the bench and I ended up with it on the ground, holding the branch with one hand and trying to control the saw with the other.

Yeah, I know, not very smart. So I have this vibrating and loud, not to mention, heavy, tool running and I’m concentrating mostly on not cutting off a foot and not really noticing how my arm and elbow feel.

I am nothing if not obstinate, by the time I gave up I fear I injured myself. No biggy, the muscle that runs over my elbow and then down to my fingers throbbed and burned. Fine, I gave it some time and figured it would pass. I’m no spring chicken so I didn’t count on this happening overnight.

But damn, it’s been over three weeks and it still hurts to touch, and it still hurts if I try to lift anything. Damn. I’ve been babying it as best I can but I use it a lot, of course.

I’m a caregiver and it’s hard to get out to the doctor. I’d look it up but I don’t even know what these body parts are called.

So Doctor, what do you think?

What have I done to it?

Will it go away by itself?

Any questions?

Ok, not a doctor, but…some questions…

  • Any pins & needles or numbness? Where exactly?
  • Any shoulder pain?
  • Where is the the most tender part (upper arm, right on the elbow, or in the lower part of your arm)?
  • Does it pull on your elbow if you stretch your wrist down (with your elbow straight)?
  • If you cock your wrist upward and use your other hand to resist that movement, does it hurt?
  • What activity is most painful (turning a doorknob, etc.)?

To answer your questions:

I’ve had no pins & needles.

No shoulder pain except the first couple of days, but it cleared up quickly.

The most tenderpart is indeed, with arm fully extended, directly over that elbow bone.

It hurts when I fully extend my arm, same spot.

flexing my hand up while resisting with my other hand does not hurt.

But when I lift anything with just my right hand it really hurts that elbowy muscle.

Hope this helps!

Oh yeah, and it does pull in my elbow when I extend my arm and flex my hand down.

OK, my guess is lateral epicondylitis - tennis elbow. Keep babying it for awhile and it might resolve itself in a couple weeks.

That is a WAG - I’m not a doctor or in health care.

I’m not a Dr. either. If you really have been babying it for 3 weeks, tennis elbow would improve. Maybe not completely, but it would be somewhat better. You may have torn a muscle or tendon. You really should try to see a real Dr.

Thanks for the input, I really appreciate it.

It’s difficult for me to baby it, though I am trying.

The whole experience makes me feel like I am 1000 yrs old.

I’d still be interested to know what these body parts are called so I can do a little research.

I’m pretty sure it’s not an elbow muscle!

Are you talking about the inside of your elbow… the elbow “pit” where ligaments and tendons are or the top (with your palm facing down) where the muscle is?

Drop down about 3 pages on thisdiagram.

Thanks lieu, for the diagram, wow, that’s a lot going on there.

It’s not the inside, it’s the outside.

Let’s see if I can desribe it a bit better for you.

If I hold my arm extended in front of me, palm towards the floor,

now take my other fore finger and thumb and feel around my elbow,

starting with finger tip and thumb tip touching, on the inner elbow and spreading them apart as I feel, when I get around to the back as soon as I get to where you can feel a bone (top and bottom, about 3/4 the way around) those muscles are both sore to the touch.

Very sore, still. Sometimes warm to the touch and sometimes a little itchy.

If I have indeed torn something is there anything they can really do?

I am in healthcare, because of that, I have to say first and foremost, see your healthcare provider as soon as you can. That said, I can suggest few things that may help. C3 is correct to a point, It does sound like tendonitis.
I understand that it may be hard to rest it, but it is very important. An epicondyl strap* can help ease the pain, but don’t be tempted to use the arm just because it doesn’t hurt. Ice several times a day will help the inflamation, ice it for 30 to 45 minutes every couple hours. NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflamatory Drugs) have their place, but check with your healthcare provider before taking any.
Massage at the most painful spot can help break up any scar tissue forming.
Elevate it when you sleep.
Using your arm, especially if you’re lifting or positioning someone who isn’t able to help, is not only putting you at risk of permanent damage, you’re putting the person you’re caring for at risk.
Untreated, you will lose strength eventually.
Hope this helps, but remember, see someone.
*an elastic & velcro band you put just below your elbow. You can find them at sporting goods stores.

lieu! Great link, my friend! Bookmarked it for my own use! :wink:

Elbows, I hope you feel better soon! An injury to the same body area as your nickname! Is that synchronicity, or just kismet? I can never differntiate between the two! :smiley:


Another vote for probable tennis elbow. I’m currently experiencing a flare-up in my right elbow (consequence of shooting lots of arrows from increasingly heavy bows.)

I had my first episode with this about 15 years ago, after a long and difficult hardware upgrade on a small computer – think lots of lifting and screwdriver turning. I woke up the next day with lots of pain in my elbow. Mine didn’t start out running down my forearm, but it did gradually. I eventually couldn’t pick up even a glass of tea with my right hand without lots of pain.

I kept thinking it would get better, and it didn’t. You should go to the doctor and get it looked at. That’s what it took for me. I ended up having ultrasound treatments to reduce the inflammation and physical therapy.

I’m probably going to need to go to the doctor with mine again, but first I’m going to try agressive icing and doing the physical therapy kinds of stuff I remember from my first episode. I suspect I’ve probably got some arthritis in the elbow too (I’ve got 4 years on you), which may complicate things. I may need to get a cortisone shot this time.

Good luck! Aches and pains no fun.