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.
What are the causes of elbow pain?
The two most common causes of elbow pain that we treat at Restore Motion Physio is tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is an injury to the muscles that start at the elbow run down to the wrist and fingers, with the job to extend. 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 happen. It is the stress that is placed on the forearm and elbow during tennis, and hence the higher prevalence of this injury among tennis players, that gives this injury its common name.
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 cause flexion. This also means that instead of the pain being felt on the outside of the elbow, it is primarily felt on the inside (though it may radiate). 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:
- – Poor technique during sports
- – Muscular imbalances
- – Tightness or weakness the muscles around the elbow
- – Bursitis
- – Arthritis
- – Impingement of the radial nerve
- – Spraining the ulnar collateral ligament
What other symptoms may I experience when I injure my elbow?
Other symptoms can include:
- – Stiffness at the elbow joint and a restricted movement range
- – Weakness at the elbow and lower arm
- – Swelling around the elbow
- – Numbness or tingling