Tennis Elbow & Golfers Elbow: Causes and Treatments

Dr Ciara McAdam – Osteopath

Do you have stiffness and soreness along the inside or outside of your elbow? Does the pain feel like a burning sensation? Have you experienced pain or weakness with activities such as typing on a computer, lifting, gripping, shaking hands or opening doors and jars? Does your elbow pain radiate into your forearm? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have tennis or golfer’s elbow. 

What is it?

Tennis elbow is a term that means tendinopathy (also known as tendonitis or tendinosis) of the wrist extensor tendons that attach to the outside of your elbow. 

Golfers elbow is tendinopathy of the wrist flexor tendons that attach to the inside of your elbow. 

Tennis and golfer’s elbow are technically called lateral and medial epicondylitis. Epicondyles are the bony protrusions on either side of the elbow. These are where the tendons of the forearm (wrist extensor and flexor muscle tendons) attach. ‘Itis’ means inflammation of. Therefore ‘epicondylitis’ means inflammation of the tendons that attach onto the elbow. 

Why does it happen?

Although the names might suggest otherwise, these injuries are not just limited to golfers or tennis players. In fact they are very common in those who are not athletes and more often than not we see everyday people coming into the clinic with these injuries from their daily activities or work. Repetitive strain and overuse of movements involving the wrist and elbow may result with medial or lateral epicondylitis. 

How do you treat it?

Treatment for tennis and golfers elbow is multifaceted. Manual therapy such as soft tissue, joint mobilisation and dry needling can be used to reduce the initial symptoms.Sometimes the injury may require extra support like bracing or taping in order to offload the tendons and allow for healing. After this, strengthening and stretching around the wrist and elbow is important for recovery of the injury.Stretches may include:

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It is very important to look at the reason as to why the tendons are being repetitively strained. This may require speaking to your practitioner about your ergonomic work set up, hobbies or your daily routine. It is important to offload the tendons for a period of time so altering some of these activities may be required. 

With your Osteopath, a management plan will be developed so you both have a plan about what will be done during treatment sessions and what you will be required to do at home. 

If you think you may have lateral or medial epicondylitis give us a call at the clinic and we may be able to help you MOVE THROUGH LIFE!

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