Elbow Pain: 2 Common Conditions and How to fix them
Are you a tradie on the good old shovel all day long or forever carrying heavy objects and doing repetitive jobs onsite? Maybe you’re a keen golfer and play most weeks, maybe more at the moment being limited to this during Iso? Or maybe you’re a keyboard warrior and have increased this lately due to iso as well? Whatever your job description, all of the above can cause some seriously sore elbows! There are two common conditions of the elbow that occur due to repetitive strain, these being tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.
Tennis Elbow vs. Golfer’s Elbow
Probably more common than Golfer’s elbow- tennis elbow, despite the name it is not often caused by tennis these days. It is a condition of the tendon on the outside of the elbow, technically called lateral tendinopathy or lateral tendinitis. Lateral just means to the outer side and tendinopathy is a condition or pathology of the tendon. The tendon becomes inflamed and will be called tendonitis, or longer standing pain where the fibres start to become damaged is called tendinosis. The common wrist extensor muscles attach to this tendon, so bending the wrist up towards yourself if the palm is facing the floor, is the main action here. Small intricate movements of the fingers are also part of these muscles action. The pain is usually found on the top of the elbow on the bony part, called the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, which you can feel sitting just underneath the skin. It may travel down into the forearm, even sometimes right to the wrist and less commonly to the fingers. It can be present when trying to grip, twist and lift things often causing weakness.
Golfer’s elbow is the same, just on the inner side of the elbow- technically called medial tendinopathy or tendinitis. The common wrist flexor muscles attach to this tendon, their action is bending the wrist to the floor if the palm was facing the floor. Small intricate movements of the fingers are also part of these muscles action. The pain is similar to tennis elbow just on the opposite side of the arm- usually over that bony prominence on the inside and can travel down into the under side of the forearm. It can be present when trying to grip, twist and lift things often causing weakness also, as well as numbness & tingling occasionally into the ring and little fingers.
Tennis Elbow Causes
Repetitive strain is the answer. For tennis elbow it is usually the repetitive use of a keyboard most often for the office worker, the repetitive use of tools and lifting, shovelling, gripping and twisting for the tradie and for the tennis player, well it is the repetitive shock travelling through the arm when a tennis ball is struck while gripping onto that racket. Alas, these are not the only occupations or activities to cause tennis elbow.
Golfer’s elbow is usually caused by you guessed it, GOLF! Also repetitive gripping, twisting and shock that is transferred into the arm, it is much like it’s counterpart, tennis elbow. Tennis elbow tends to be a bit more common than golfer’s elbow.
So how do we resolve it you ask? REST my friends, rest. Most of us just can’t stop what we are doing and go on a nice holiday to relax (especially not right now) so there are other things we can do. Try to offload the arm and rest it where practical for you. This means maybe delegating some of the jobs you really struggle to do because the pain is so bad, if you can. Otherwise taking regular breaks and stretching out the muscles of the forearm where you can. Heat and ice can prove very handy over where the tendon attaches to the bone. A brace is often helpful in the beginning to assist with reducing pain.
These conditions are often stubborn and usually related to your line of work, meaning they take a fair amount of time and effort to get on top of. They usually require expert help to get on top of the pain in the beginning and form a rehab plan to get you back on track. Here at MyoSports we treat these conditions all the time, so if this sounds like you, pop on in to get you back to work and doing what you enjoy as fast as possible.