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HEALTH BLOG

Get a Grip On Your Elbow Pain

Whether you’re an ace on the court or you’ve never picked up a racquet in your life, your elbow pain may be lateral epicondylitis (aka, tennis elbow).

What is Lateral Epicondylitis? (Aka Tennis Elbow)

Tennis elbow is a painful overuse condition of the muscles that allow your wrist and elbow to extend. These muscles attach on the outside (lateral) portion of your elbow on the rounded, boney prominence (epicondyles). These muscles control movement at the wrist and elbow and are also involved in gripping activities and rotational movements of the forearm.

How Tennis Elbow Develops

Tennis elbow is a form of tendinitis, a medical term to describe inflammation or irritation of a tendon. Tendons are connective tissues that attach muscle to bone. When tendons are used repeatedly in the same motion, they become inflamed and painful at the point where they attach to the bone. Tendinitis can occur at any tendon/bone connection in the body, with some of the most common areas of tendinitis occurring at the knee, hip, shoulder, and elbow.

Tennis elbow can be caused by recreational activities, such as tennis or gardening, or from occupations with repetitive motions such as painting, automotive mechanics, or assembly line work.

What Does It Feels Like?

The pain often feels sharp and burning near the elbow and can radiate down into your forearm and wrist. With severe tennis elbow, symptoms can make it difficult to hold objects, even those as light as a cup of water!

Other symptoms can include:

  • Stiffness in the elbow, especially when straightening the arm
  • Weakness in the forearm, wrist, or hand
  • Pain when twisting or bending your arm (for instance, turning a doorknob or opening a jar)
  • Swelling of the elbow that can be tender to touch

What Is Golfer’s Elbow?

Both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow can cause severe discomfort when you grasp items with your hand and when you lift or twist objects. They also have similar causes and respond to similar treatment plans that your physical therapist will create.  The difference is where you feel your pain- either the inner area or the outer area of your elbow.

Either condition involves injuries to your forearm’s tendons after overuse or trauma. The tendons attach your forearm muscles to your elbow bone. They work as you grip, lift or twist objects. A weakened tendon means greater stress and can cause pain. The result can be tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow.

Tennis Elbow vs. Golfer’s Elbow: Lateral Epicondylitis vs. Medial Epicondylitis

While the medical term for tennis elbow is ‘lateral epicondylitis,’ the term for golfer’s elbow is ‘medical epicondylitis.’ It’s simple enough to decode these technical terms. “Lateral” is a medical word for “outer,” while “medial” is a medical word for “inner.”  In the simplest of terms, the tennis elbow is inflammation on the end of the outer elbow, and a golfer’s elbow is inflammation on the end of the inner elbow.

What’s Next? Ask The Expert

Your chiropractor is an expert in the musculoskeletal system and will help you understand your unique symptoms based on your diagnosis. Don’t let a short-term injury turn chronic in nature. Choose chiropractic care today to help you get back on the court or course with less pain and improved function.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help

Tennis elbow is a quite common condition that chiropractors treat—reducing pain and improving function through a variety of methods. During a thorough evaluation, your chiropractor will measure your elbow, wrist, and hand strength as well as your range of motion. They’ll ask you questions about when your pain/symptoms first started. With your long-term goals in mind, they’ll create a customized care plan to reduce your pain through services such as:

Chiropractic Adjustments

 Neck pain is commonly associated with tennis elbow. And even if you don’t feel discomfort in your neck, a cervical adjustment is a crucial part of your recovery. Misalignments are very common in the cervical region of the spine. It’s important for a chiropractor to adjust your neck to ensure there’s no interruption or interference in your nervous system. Any interference or misalignment can cause inflammation of your tendons, causing weakness, which could be contributing to your tennis elbow. Not only will chiropractic adjustments help your pain in your elbow, but these adjustments will proactively restore mobility and any other misalignments in your spine you may not be aware of. A healthy spine is very important to your overall health and wellbeing. Your chiropractor may also adjust your elbow, shoulder and wrist. Lack of mobility in these areas could be causing strain or putting stress on your elbow.

Therapeutic Techniques

 These may include therapeutic massage, instrument-assisted soft tissue management (IASTM), the Graston Technique, or trigger point therapy. Other care options include cupping, myofascial release, or electrical stimulation for pain management. These hands-on services will improve blood flow to the impacted tissues and promote healing from within.

Stretching

Full joint and soft tissue mobility is an important aspect of regaining normal function. Your chiropractor will select appropriate stretches for you and teach you how to perform these on your own.

Strengthening

In many cases involving soft tissue injuries, muscle imbalance can heighten discomfort. Muscle imbalance occurs when opposing muscle groups have significantly different levels of strength, which can lead to pain and dysfunction. With tennis elbow, there’s often a strength imbalance in the forearm muscles. Your chiropractor will assess your strength and prescribe exercises uniquely tailored to your body to improve strength and promote a better balance.

Education & Prevention

Conditions such as tennis elbow are completely avoidable, and part of your care plan will include education on how to prevent your pain from returning.

Elbow Pain Relief Is Within Reach

Chiropractors are experts in injury prevention, and as you progress through your care and prepare for discharge, the main focus of your sessions will be discussing the movements and activities that can aggravate your condition. Your chiropractor will teach you with modifications to assist with your daily tasks. Tennis elbow is a pesky problem that can make work and play a challenge. While you may be able to manage the pain initially, ignoring symptoms can lead to prolonged pain. With your trusted chiropractor on your team, you’ll be back on the court before you know it. If elbow pain limits you, contact MCR Chiropractic to schedule an evaluation.


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