Two common elbow complaints are “tennis elbow” (lateral epicondylitis) and “golfer’s elbow” (medial epicondylitis). They typically result from overuse of the elbow from activities such as tennis, golf and manual repetitive labor.
Tennis elbow is classified as pain on the outside of the elbow joint, and caused by overuse of the forearm muscles involved in gripping, extending the wrist and extending the elbow.
Golfer’s elbow presents as pain on the inside of the elbow, and is caused by overuse of the forearm muscles involved in gripping, flexing the wrist and flexing the elbow. The tendon that attaches the muscles to the bone can become very tight and inflamed as the flexor muscles tighten. The blood supply to this area is very limited so it can take a long time to heal. Causes can include overuse in sports such as tennis, golf, and other activities including gardening, painting, computer and mouse use, lifting and carrying.
Symptoms can include:
- Elbow pain on the outside or inside of the elbow, possibly radiating down the forearm to the wrist.
- Elbow pain with lifting or bending the arm, gripping or activities such as lifting a cup, opening a door or turning a tap.
- Weakness in the wrist.
- Difficulty straightening the arm
- Occasionally swelling around the elbow.
Our treatment may include:
- Ice and anti-inflammatory measures to decrease the pain and swelling. Soft tissue release techniques to the forearm muscles. Strengthening exercises (particularly eccentric exercises) to stimulate healing and promote recovery.
- An elbow strap for tennis/golfers elbow can be very helpful to offload the tendon attachment and allow healing to occur. You should rest from any aggravating activities until the pain settles.