The elbow joint has 3 main ligaments (strong pieces of cartilage) that stabilize the joint and allow for its smooth movement. When these ligaments are stretched, or ruptured, you have the case of an elbow sprain. It is often the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), most important ligament of the elbow, that is sprained. The severity of sprains vary from Grade 1 (least severe) to Grade 3 (most severe).
Common causes of an elbow sprain include hyperextension of the elbow (perhaps through falling on an outstretched arm) or trauma.
Applying the P.R.I.C.E. principles (protect, rest, ice, compression and elevation) is very effective in managing the sprain. The doctor may consider taping or using a brace of the elbow that compress the arm and relieve pain.
It is important for patients to recognize that a sprain varies in its severity, so consequently, the healing time also varies. Grade 1 sprains may take from a week to 4 weeks, whereas grade 3 sprain can take from 2 months to over a year to heal