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Elbow examination

Follow the scheme below:

  • Inspection
  • Palpation
  • Movement

Before starting

  • Introduce yourself
  • Ask permission to perform the examination
  • Explain what the examination entails
  • Expose the patient appropriately - both of the patient's arms should be exposed
  • Tell the patient to let you know if anything you do is uncomfortable
  • Remember - always watch the patients face 


  • General observation
    • Does the patient look well?
    • Is there any obvious deformities or conditions?
      • Gout
      • Rheumatoid nodules

  • Remember to inspect from all sides (front, laterally and from behind):
    • Skin
      • Scars (previous injuries or surgcial scars)
      • Skin changes
    • Deformity
      •  Varus/ valgus
      • Malunited fractures 
    • Swelling
      • Intra-articular (heamarthrosis, synovitis)
      • Extra-articular (bursitis) 
    • Effusion 
    • Muscle wasting
      •  Biceps, triceps and forearm 
    • Carrying angle - measured with a goniometer
      • Average male carrying angle - 11 o
      • Average female carrying angle - 13 o

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