This is a persistent click, catch and pain in the back of the elbow usually on full extension or lockout. It can become very sore with repeated activities under load or throwing of martial arts type movement. The British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2006 stated that ‘posterior impingement of the elbow is an uncommon disorder in the general population; however, it is usually seen in patients who overuse their elbow during specific sporting activities such as overhead throwing or tennis.’
It is caused by poor technique and/or relatively mobile joints which allows a bit more play in the joint. The elbow when it locks out has the forearm part (olecranon) fold into the upper arm part (humerus). The issue is that the capsule, or fibrous skirt around the joint, gets caught in the joint fold and becomes thicker and fibrous and inflamed. Because it then gets bigger as part of this the catching becomes more frequent and the problem just gets worse.
The BMJ says that ‘most symptomatic conditions of the overhead athlete can be treated conservatively.‘ Treatment involves work for the strength and control around the joint and a careful look at the technique that has caused this. Further, the fibrous tissues need to be broken down and thinned out to reduce the amount of catch and the inflammation needs to be reduced.
Techniques are manual therapy and stretch work as well and local work with acupuncture and electrotherapy.