Problems and injuries to the elbow are frustrating, painful and show us how much more we use our elbows than we may have realised! The truth is that there are many tendons and ligaments around our elbow joint that help it function effectively and painlessly. When any of these (as well as the joint itself) are injured, pain and swelling begin. When they do, the elbow and the damaged structures must be treated effectively so that no long-term consequences, like chronic weakness, develop.
Two common causes of elbow pain that we see at The Physio are Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow.
Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is an injury to the muscles that start run down the forearm to the wrist and fingers, from the elbow. Their function is extending the fingers and wrist. The pain is present primarily at the outside of the elbow because this is where these muscles originate, at a bony bump called the lateral epicondyle. This injury occurs when significant force is applied to the muscles - more than they can safely handle. It is called Tennis Elbow because of the stress that is placed on the forearm and elbow during tennis.
Golfer’s Elbow (medial epicondylitis) is very similar to tennis elbow, except that instead of affecting the muscles that extend the wrist and fingers, it affects the muscles that flex them. This also means that instead of the pain being felt on the outside of the elbow, it is primarily felt on the inside, although it can radiate around the area. Golfer’s Elbow affects a lot more people than just golfers - anyone (including tennis players) that tend to clench their firsts or forcefully grip objects, such as in golf, can damage these flexor muscles.Other causes of elbow pain include:
Other symptoms can include:
Tennis elbow pain is highly correlated with shoulder positioning and function. Sitting at work or driving for periods of time creates tightness through most patients shoulders which then causes an increase in the workload of your common extensors which are used for gripping. As good as treatment of the localised area of pain is around the elbow we also work along the shoulder and neck and give a home exercise program to help with your recovery. Treatment can include shockwave and dry needling depending on what stage of injury you are.