Elbow Specialist In Singapore

Dr Poh Seng Yew, an orthopaedic specialist with 18 years of experience, focuses on a range of orthopaedic and musculoskeletal conditions, including elbow disorders. He utilises a variety of surgical techniques, including arthroscopic, minimally invasive, and open procedures, to address different elbow complications.

If elbow pain symptoms are affecting your daily life, our MOH-accredited elbow specialist can offer a detailed diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

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Dr Poh Seng Yew



MMED (Ortho)



Common Elbow Conditions

Elbow conditions vary widely in terms of symptoms, severity, and impact on daily activities. Common elbow conditions include:

  • Tennis Elbow - This condition, often caused by overuse or repetitive forearm and wrist movements, can result in damage to the forearm muscles and tendons. It manifests as pain and swelling and affects athletes and individuals engaged in activities like painting or typing.
  • Elbow Bursitis - This is characterised by inflammation in the olecranon bursa at the tip of the elbow. It's often a result of repetitive activities or direct trauma, leading to pain, swelling, and redness around the back of the elbow.
  • Elbow Arthritis - This occurs due to wear and tear, injury, or inflammatory disorders that deteriorate the cartilage in the elbow joint. This results in pain, stiffness, swelling, and a limited range of motion.
  • Elbow Instability - This is characterised by the elbow joint's looseness, leading to catching, popping, or sliding out of place, particularly under load. It is often a consequence of an injury such as an elbow dislocation or subluxation.
  • Distal Bicep Tears - Occurring when the bicep tendon at the elbow is torn, this condition impairs forearm rotation and bending of the elbow. The tear can be partial or complete.
  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome - This involves compression or irritation of the ulnar nerve in the arm, leading to numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and fingers. It is most commonly compressed behind the inner part of the elbow.

Common Causes Of Elbow Conditions

Elbow conditions are influenced by a variety of factors, often related to lifestyle, occupational hazards, and physical activities.

  • Repetitive Motion and Overuse
    Frequent and repetitive activities, particularly those involving the wrist and forearm, can lead to strain and microtears in the tendons and muscles around the elbow. This is commonly caused by activities like sports or manual labour.
  • Trauma or Physical Injury
    Acute injuries from falls, sports accidents, or direct blows can lead to fractures, dislocations, or soft tissue damage in the elbow area.
  • Age-Related Degeneration
    As people age, the natural wear and tear on the elbow joint can lead to conditions like arthritis, characterised by the deterioration of cartilage and the development of bone spurs.
  • Occupational and Lifestyle Factors
    Jobs or hobbies that involve heavy lifting, prolonged elbow use, or resting the elbow on hard surfaces for extended periods can increase the risk of conditions like bursitis or nerve compression syndromes.
  • Medical Conditions and Inflammation
    Certain systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or diabetes can predispose individuals to elbow issues due to inflammation, joint damage, or nerve compression.
  • Poor Posture and Ergonomics
    Inadequate ergonomics at the workplace or during activities and poor posture can put additional strain on the elbow joint, leading to overuse injuries.
  • Genetic and Anatomical Factors
    Some individuals may be more prone to elbow conditions due to their genetic makeup or unique anatomical structures, which can affect the way stress is distributed across the joint.

Symptoms and Signs

The manifestation of symptoms in elbow conditions can vary, but some common indicators include:

  • Pain and Discomfort: Pain can range from a mild ache to severe discomfort, often exacerbated by specific movements or activities.
  • Swelling and Inflammation: Swelling around the elbow joint is a common sign, especially in conditions like bursitis or following an injury.
  • Reduced Mobility: Stiffness or difficulty in moving the elbow joint is often a sign of conditions like arthritis or the following injury.
  • Numbness or Tingling: Compression of nerves, as seen in cubital tunnel syndrome, can lead to sensations like numbness or tingling, particularly in the fingers.
  • Weakness: A reduction in the strength of the elbow or forearm, often noted in activities that involve lifting or gripping, can be indicative of conditions like tendonitis or muscle injuries.
  • Visible Changes: Bruising, redness, or noticeable deformities around the elbow may be signs of acute injury or chronic conditions.


Accurate diagnosis of elbow conditions involves several steps:

Clinical Assessment

Initial evaluation typically includes a detailed medical history and a physical examination. The elbow specialist will assess the elbow’s range of motion and strength, as well as check for areas of tenderness, swelling, or deformity.

Imaging Tests

Depending on the suspected condition, various imaging modalities such as X-rays, MRI scans, or ultrasound may be used. These tests help in visualizing bone structures, soft tissues, and any abnormalities like fractures, tendon tears, or inflammation.

Nerve Tests

In cases of nerve-related symptoms, such as in cubital tunnel syndrome, nerve conduction studies or electromyography (EMG) can be performed to evaluate nerve function and pinpoint areas of compression.

Blood Tests

For conditions like arthritis, blood tests might be conducted to identify markers of inflammation or autoimmune diseases.

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Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Non-surgical approaches can help manage various elbow conditions, focusing on reducing symptoms and improving function.

Rest and Activity Modification

In the initial stages of treatment, the elbow specialist may suggest avoiding or modifying activities that exacerbate the symptoms. This can prevent further aggravation of the condition and aids in the healing process.

Physical Therapy

This involves exercises to strengthen muscles, enhance flexibility, and reduce stress on the elbow. The elbow specialist may also employ techniques like ultrasound or electrical stimulation to promote healing.

Supportive Braces or Splints

These may be suggested by the elbow specialist, especially for those with conditions like cubital tunnel syndrome or tendonitis. It can provide support and limit movement to aid recovery.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen are frequently prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. In more severe cases, stronger pain relievers may be considered.

Steroid Injections

Used in more persistent cases, corticosteroid injections can provide relief from inflammation, particularly in conditions like tennis elbow or arthritis.

Surgical Treatment Options

In cases where non-surgical methods are insufficient, surgical intervention might be necessary. Each surgical option is carefully considered based on the specific condition, severity, and overall health of the patient.

  • Arthroscopic Surgery
    This minimally invasive surgery involves small incisions and a camera to guide the procedure, offering quicker recovery times. It can be used for a range of elbow conditions.
  • Tendon Repair
    For conditions like distal bicep tears, surgical reattachment of the tendon to the bone can be necessary to restore full arm function.
  • Elbow Replacement
    In severe elbow arthritis, replacing the damaged joint with a prosthetic can reduce pain and improve mobility.
  • Nerve Release or Transposition
    For nerve compression syndromes like cubital tunnel syndrome, surgery may involve releasing the nerve or altering its position to prevent further compression.
  • Ligament Reconstruction
    In cases of severe elbow instability, this procedure can be considered to help repair or reconstruct damaged ligaments. This can restore stability to the joint.

Preventing Elbow Complications

Several strategies can help mitigate the risk of developing elbow conditions:

  • Regular Exercise and Elbow Strengthening: Engaging in exercises for the muscles around the elbow can improve joint stability and help lower injury risks.
  • Ergonomic Adjustments to Reduce Elbow Strain: Adopting ergonomic measures, particularly in work settings, may lessen elbow strain during repetitive activities.
  • Proper Techniques in Sports and Activities: Employing appropriate techniques in sports and physical activities can help avoid undue stress on the elbow.
  • Adequate Rest and Recovery: Allowing sufficient time for rest and recovery after intense activities can help prevent further damage.
  • Using Protective Gear and Supports to Prevent Injury: Appropriate protective equipment or supportive braces during activities may reduce the risk of elbow injuries.

Dr Poh Seng Yew



MMED (Ortho)


With over 20 years of experience, Dr Poh Seng Yew is an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in hip, knee, shoulder and elbow surgery, sports medicine, and trauma surgery.

  • Former Director of Sports Service, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Singapore General Hospital
  • Clinical Hip and Sports Medicine Fellow, Orthopädische Chirurgie München (OCM), Germany
  • Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, FRCSEd (Orthopaedic Surgery)
  • Master of Medicine (Orthopaedic Surgery), National University of Singapore
  • Member, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (MRCSEd)
  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), National University of Singapore



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Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
Singapore 329563

Weekdays: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Saturdays: 9.00am – 1.00pm
Sundays and Public Holidays: Closed

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    Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
    38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
    Singapore 329563

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    Can Elbow Pain Go Away on Its Own?

    Elbow pain resulting from minor strains or injuries may resolve with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relief. Persistent or severe pain warrants a consultation with an elbow specialist to diagnose and treat the underlying cause effectively.

    What Happens If Elbow Pain Is Left Untreated?

    Ignoring elbow pain can lead to worsening symptoms and potential complications, especially if it stems from conditions like arthritis or tendonitis. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent long-term damage and improve outcomes.

    When Should I Consider Elbow Surgery?

    Elbow surgery is generally considered when non-surgical treatments fail to alleviate pain or improve function, or in cases of serious structural damage. Consult an elbow specialist for a comprehensive evaluation and appropriate treatment options for your specific condition.

    What Should I Avoid When I Have Elbow Pain?

    Avoid activities that exacerbate the pain, such as heavy lifting or repetitive elbow movements. Consult our MOH-accredited elbow specialist for a detailed diagnosis and treatment plan.

    How Long Does It Take to Recover from Elbow Pain?

    Recovery time varies depending on the underlying cause and treatment method. Minor injuries may heal within a few weeks, while more severe conditions or post-surgical recovery might take several months. Following your elbow specialist’s guidance and adhering to a rehabilitation plan can aid in recovery.