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Sports Medicine

Elbow clicking with pain.



Why is my left elbow clicking with pain everytime I bend elbow under any kind of resistance?

Back in Aug. of 09`, I had subcutaneous transposition surgery on my left ulnar nerve due to severe ulnar neuropathy. Surgeon advised the surgery went well. While rehabbing the elbow, my therapist and I noticed my elbow is clicking profoundly on the medial side at the elbow joint. Once I grab a 10 lb dumbell, in an attempt to do tricep extensions, the elbow clicks with pain and fourth and fifth fingers go numb. I do have a 5 inch scar over that area. Is this just scar tissue build up, a loose body, torn or loose ligament/tendon, or is this my ulnar nerve moving out of the new position the surgeon placed it in? Would an MRI detect any of those abnormalities, or don`t worry it is just plycae buildup.


Your surgeon should be able to shed light on the basis for your symptoms; if not, consider seeking a second opinion by consulting with another orthopedic surgeon who performs ulnar nerve transposition surgeries. Your symptoms could be due to subluxation of the medial head of the triceps tendon over the medial epicondyle, which has been reported to occur despite successful ulnar nerve transposition surgery.

An MRI scan should show a loose body, as well as a torn tendon or torn ligament. It should also show the position/location of your ulnar nerve. However, the best imaging study to dynamically assess what may be happening is "musculoskeletal ultrasound," which is becoming increasingly available and performed by sports medicine physicians in physical medicine and family medicine, as well as by neurologists.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University