Snapping Elbow (Plica)

Snapping Elbow (Plica)
July 29, 2017

Sometimes I have observed that patients without history of a traumatic experience approach me with a pain in the elbow in the posterior lateral region which produces a popping sound when the elbow is rotated. This may be because of a plica or synovitis”, pronounces Dr. Vikas Gupta.
Dr. Vikas Gupta in his professional service of more than 25 years is rarely seen missing on accurate diagnosis of a condition. Eliminating the debilitating condition with expertise and deftness is another finesse he is endowed with.

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Dr. Gupta vocalizes his assertions on snapping elbow, “Plica can cause snapping elbow which may be simply explained as the painful condition that arises because of an inflammation in the elbow joint lining due to an injury or overuse increasing with motion because the lining gets caught in between the elbow bones. The patients start to experience pain on the outside elbow and when bent 90 degrees with palm facing away from the body the elbow starts to produce a snapping sound.”
Designated as the Head of Hand and Shoulder division at Max Healthcare, Dr. Gupta is unparalleled in his approach towards his deliverance and his dedicated perseverance makes enervating conditions seem hassle free. Speaking further on elbow plica, “These plicas have to be surgically removed in both front and the back of the elbow though we do try to gauge the therapeutic effect of steroid injection once before going in for arthroscopic treatment or use it for diagnostic purpose. We generally do not rely upon MRI’s as they mostly fail to exhibit plica rather we ascertain its presence by conducting a physical examination. It is not essential to delve into this diagnostic point of view here rather important to understand that it is not a very threatening condition and an extremely skilled elbow arthroscopist can easily relieve the patient of it. The prima focus of the patients should be seeking medical expertise of an affluent elbow specialist.

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FAQ – Snapping Elbow (Plica)

Any painful condition in the posterior lateral region of the elbow that causes a snapping/ popping sound when moved is referred to as snapping elbow.
When the elbow joint lining becomes enlarged or inflamed and gets caught in between the bones of the elbow when moved, it is referred to as Plica.
When the painful condition in the elbow is caused by the entrapment of the enlarged/ inflamed joint lining that is caught in between the elbow bones with motion, it is commonly referred to as snapping elbow (plica).
Plica may be caused by-
  • Overuse of the elbow
  • Injury to the elbow joint
  • Though symptoms may vary the common signs that indicate elbow plica are-
    • Swelling on the elbow joint
    • Popping sound on rotating the elbow
    • Pain on the outside of the elbow
    • Snapping sound in the elbow when it is bent to 90 degrees with the palm (hand) facing away from the body
    To mark the presence of elbow plica the initial diagnosis carried out is the physical examination which should be conducted by a skilled elbow surgeon. Further conclusive diagnosis is insertion of a steroid injection into the elbow. The injection’s success in relieving pain in the elbow joint indicates that the problem is inside it and may be plica. MRI’s cannot be relied upon to ascertain the prevalence of elbow plica as they mostly miss on exhibiting its presence.
    The patients are relieved from the enervating symptoms of Elbow plica either by steroid injection or by arthroscopic removal. Steroid injection is taken up as the initial treatment technique to help decrease the size of the plica and relieve the patient of the pain but when the symptoms recur or the injection proves inadequate in relieving the patient then it is removed by a minimal invasive outpatient surgery or arthroscopic excision. The plica needs to be removed on both the front and the back of the elbow.
    Surgical excisions in terms of removal of plica are only considered effective when certain precautionary measures are adhered to, after the surgery. To regain and restore motion in the elbow, physical therapy is taken up as a rehabilitation protocol and within 10 to 14 days the patient tries to restore strength in the elbow along with reduction in swelling. The patient is allowed to resume activities that involve elbow after three to six weeks with the underlined assertion that it would be several months before complete motion gets regained by the elbow.
    Posted in Condition & Treatments by admin