BJJ Elbow Injuries are of the most common to occur.
Among many others, which you can read about here: MOST COMMON BJJ INJURIES
Often, these injuries are a result from hyper-extension of the elbow joint, when caught in an armbar. Understanding what structures in the elbow were likely injured is important. Consequently, this knowledge can help to assess and treat the injury appropriately. Therefore, getting you back to training and/or competition healthy and pain-free.
Some recent research, Almeida et al (2017), analyzed BJJ elbow injuries and their mechanism of injury. As it turns out, all the injuries investigated, resulted from armbars.
To start, this research looked at 5 Gracie Elite BJJ athletes, all of whom were injured during competition. As a side-note, rates and types of BJJ injuries differ between competition and training, you can read more about the most common BJJ injuries HERE.
Following the injuries, a clinical assessment was performed twice. First, immediately after the injury. Second, when magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed.
Once the initial injury occurred, the athletes were assessed and tracked for 5 months, to collect data.
The results of this data are highlighted below:
Pain was present in all cases.
X-ray analysis showed no abnormal changes or injury.
Clinical assessment found specific sensitive spots inside and at the crease of injured elbows.
When tested, no ligamentous instability of the elbow was observed.
Results of MRI’s showed:
5/6 Fighters had Total or Partial ruptures to the common flexor tendons.
6/6 Fighters ruptured the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). This ligament is on the inside of your elbow.
4/6 Fighters had bone bruises and micro-fractures of distal humerus and olecranon (elbow).
6/6 Had Joint effusion (swelling).
So, what can we learn from these results?
First, the main pattern of injury was to the medial elbow complex.
Second, though instability tests may be negative, partial or full rupture of the UCL (inner elbow ligament) may still be likely.
Lastly, following an elbow injury via armbar, more damage than you think may have occurred. Because of this, having a healthcare professional take a look would be a good idea.
Regardless, after an injury from an armbar, rehabbing the medial elbow complex is a good place to start.
Almeida et al., 2017. ANALYSIS OF THE PATTERN AND MECHANISM OF ELBOW INJURIES RELATED TO ARMBAR-TYPE ARMLOCKS IN JIU-JITSU FIGHTERS. Acta Ortop Bras. 25(5):209-11.
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