Fraser A Big Pain in the Elbow |

Fraser A Big Pain in the Elbow

Mary Leone, OTR, CHTAlpine Physical Therapy & Wellness Center, PC

Have you ever experienced an achy or sharp pain in your elbows when you were engaged in a sport, repetitive task, or lifting something. Chances are if you brought this to the attention of your doctor or health professional they might tell you that you have Tennis Elbow. Now this would be a great explanation if you played tennis. Actually, your tennis elbow can be caused by a variety of activities.Tennis elbow is frequently the diagnosis given to elbow pain that comes on gradually. It is usually related to repetitive or heavy activities of the wrist and hand. The proper name for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis, which refers to a pain in the outside of the elbow. Less common is a condition known as golfers elbow. This is a condition of inside elbow pain diagnosed as medial epicondylitis. An even less common elbow pain is a pain in the back of the elbow which is frequently a bursitis or tendonitis involving the tricep muscle and tendon. Tennis elbow is really a problem of the wrist, but it manifests itself at the outside of the elbow where the wrist and finger muscles attach. In its early stages it is an inflammation. In later stages it can be calcification and chronic damage to this multi-tendon origin. It is generally caused by repetitive or heavy static position of the wrist. Examples of activities that cause this are: hammering or handling power tools in construction trades, repetitive use of squeeze bottles or wiping activities in housekeeping jobs, and computer use plus reaching and filing activities for office workers.People with tennis elbow tend to ignore the condition for a length of time, until they either can’t take the pain, lose motion in the elbow, or are unable to do their job or sport. At this point the condition is usually not an inflammation, but is a more chronic condition that is much harder to resolve. This condition can also affect the nerves in the arm due to their various pathways through the elbow region. In this case one can also have numbness and weakness in the hands, which is a sign of nerve compression. Here are some suggestions that can help if you suffer from this condition, which can interfere very significantly in important work, sports, and leisure activities: Don’t Ignore The pain will likely just get worse. The longer the pain goes on, the worse the damage to the tissues. Surgery for this condition does not have a high success rate, so taking early action is very important. Identify the Problem Do a little detective work and try to identify the culprit activity(ies) that are causing the problem. Many times a readjustment of a work station, task rotation, more ergonomic tools, or better balance of activities from right side to left may solve the problem. Usually the offending activity is the one that you do the most frequently throughout the day. Self Help Ice massage on a particularly painful day may help. Massaging the area will help the circulation breakdown that occurs at the elbow. Periodic stretching with the hand gently flexed and the wrist flexed will lengthen the affected tendons. It is also important to make sure that your larger muscle groups, especially those around the shoulder region are well strengthened so that the smaller muscles of your hands and forearms are not as easily overstressed. Over the counter medication may help pain, but be careful of masking the pain and returning to overuse activities. Get Help Various health care providers are capable of assisting you with this condition. Keep in mind that resolving this condition needs to be a combination of efforts between you and your health care provider. A provider knowledgeable in this condition will have multiple tools to guide you in resolving your elbow pain and resuming your work or leisure activities.