Hyperextended Elbow

hyperextended Elbow
Hyperextended Elbow from weight lifting
A hyperextended elbow occurs when the joint exceeds its normal, healthy range of motion. A hyperextension may make that joint unstable and increase the risk of a dislocation or other potential damage to the bones and soft tissues in the elbow.
“When the elbow joint is pushed beyond its normal range of motion, often due to sudden impact or forceful movement, this causes hyperextension. ”
Brandon P. Donnelly, MD

What Causes a Hyperextended Elbow

When the elbow joint is pushed beyond its normal range of motion, often due to sudden impact or forceful movement, this causes hyperextension. This can happen during activities like falling onto an outstretched arm or forcefully straightening the arm beyond its natural limits. The elbow joint is also at risk during pressing exercises, such as bench press or pushups. A hyper-extended elbow puts more stress on the wrist in these loaded positions and sets the athlete up for a hyperextension injury during heavy lifting.

The ligaments, tendons, and muscles surrounding the elbow can become strained or torn, leading to pain, swelling, and limited mobility. Sports activities, accidents, or improper technique during exercise are common causes of hyperextended elbows.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of a hyperextended elbow typically include immediate pain, swelling, and tenderness around the elbow joint.. The affected area may also appear bruised and feel warm to the touch. Movements such as bending or straightening the elbow can exacerbate the pain, and individuals may experience difficulty in fully extending or flexing the arm. In severe cases, there might be a visible deformity or instability in the joint. Numbness or tingling sensations can occur if nerves are involved. Additionally, individuals might find it challenging to grip objects or perform everyday tasks that require elbow movement. It’s not always easy to know when to see a doctor, so seeking medical attention is crucial to diagnose and properly treat a hyperextended elbow to prevent further complications.

Treatment Options


Nonsurgical treatment options for a hyperextended elbow typically include rest, ice therapy, and elevation to reduce swelling. Pain management may involve over-the-counter medications or prescription pain relievers. Physical therapy exercises help improve strength and range of motion, while a brace or splint may provide additional support during healing.


Surgical treatment for a hyperextended elbow is usually reserved for severe cases or when nonsurgical methods fail. Procedures may involve repairing damaged ligaments or tendons, reconstructing the joint, or removing loose bone fragments. Surgery aims to restore stability, function, and alleviate persistent pain or instability in the elbow.

Long Term Prognosis

The long-term prognosis of a hyperextended elbow depends on various factors, including the severity of the injury, the effectiveness of treatment, and the individual's adherence to rehabilitation. With proper care and rehabilitation, many individuals recover fully and regain normal function in the elbow. However, some may experience residual stiffness, weakness, or instability. Continuing to follow a tailored exercise program and avoiding re-injury can help maintain optimal long-term function and minimize complications.Going forward, you may also want to consider elbow strengthening and stretching exercises which can help avoid hyperextension.

What to do if you’ve been injured

If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing the symptoms of a hyperextended elbow, call my office today to schedule an appointment so we can accurately diagnose and treat your condition.

About Dr. Brandon P. Donnelly, MD

Dr. Brandon P. Donnelly is a board certified hand surgeon with Pontchartrain Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.  Dr. Donnelly completed his hand and microsurgery fellowship at the prestigious Philadelphia Hand to Shoulder Center. Dr. Donnelly treats all ages of patients in the greater New Orleans area for hand, wrist, and elbow conditions. 

This site is not intended to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this website and links to other websites, Brandon P. Donnelly, MD provides general information for educational purposes only. The content provided in this website and links, is not a substitute for medical care or treatment. You should not use this information in place of a consultation or the advice of your healthcare provider. Brandon P. Donnelly, MD is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.