Tips on Golfer's Elbow and Tennis Elbow by Brian Schiff

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Credit goes to www.thefitnessedge.cc

Most elbow pain is associated with overuse. This simply translates into using it too much in one episode or repeatedly in a short period of time, leading to soreness and pain. The muscles that attach to the elbow become strained and the tendons often get inflamed. This is a hard condition to treat and resolve. It often becomes chronic for many people.

Today, I will review the most common scenarios I see, and how best to manage these problems. Keep in mind that all situations are different and results with the prescribed exercises may vary. You should consult your physician for expert medical evaluation and treatment.

If you find the following information valuable and know of someone else who may benefit from it, please feel free to forward it on to them. In addition, send us your questions about training or specific topics of interest. I will attempt to address them in upcoming newsletters.

In health,


Brian Schiff, PT, CSCS

 

Elbow Tendonitis 101

So, if you have ever experienced significant pain along the outside of your elbow along with tenderness to touch, you may have had tennis elbow, otherwise known as lateral epicondylitis. This condition involves inflammation of the extensor tendons and muscles along the top of the forearm. Pain usually occurs where the muscles attach to the top/outer portion of the elbow. Golfer's elbow is the same scenario (medial epicondylitis), but on the inside of the elbow. It is also brought about by the same overuse mechanisms as tennis elbow.

In most cases, the symptoms come on gradually and progressively worsen to the point that simple movements and tasks involving the wrist and hand become limited and painful. It is common among tennis players, golfers, painters, and others who use their hands and wrists repeatedly in similar planes of movement in their vocation/hobbies.

How do you get rid of it? Ah, the million dollar question! I wish I had the exact answer for you, but in many cases it takes several months to go away. In large part, it depends upon whether the situation is acute (new) or chronic (been present a long time). Doctors typically prescribe anti-inflammatory meds, braces and physical therapy. In therapy, you may receive ultrasound, iontophoresis, ice, massage, stretching & strengthening. Below, I will summarize a few options for self exercise/home remedy.

 

  • Stretch the wrist upward (palm moving up) and hold 20-30 seconds. Repeat twice as tolerated. Begin with a bent elbow and then progress to a straight elbow.
  • Stretch the wrist downward (palm moving down) and hold 20-30 seconds. Repeat twice as tolerated. Begin with a bent elbow and then progress to a straight elbow.
  • Wrist flexion (curls) with a light weight - Allow the wrist to hang off the edge of a table or your thigh (palm up), and holding a light weight, curl the wrist up. Repeat 10-15 times and do 2 sets.
  • Wrist extension with a light weight - Allow the wrist to hang off the edge of a table or your thigh (palm down), and holding a light weight, curl the wrist up. Repeat 10-15 times and do 2 sets.
  • Wrist turns - Holding a light dumbbell by the bottom portion of the dumbbell with the wrist in neutral (heel of the hand facing down). Then slowly allow the dumbbell to turn to the right fully, and then slowly move it 180 degrees the other direction (to the left). Repeat 10-15 times and do 2 sets.
  • Tennis ball squeezes - Lightly squeeze a tennis ball repeatedly and relax after each squeeze (do not let go of the ball). Begin with 30 seconds and progress to 1 minute. Repeat 1-3 times.
  • Apply ice for 15 minutes after activity including the exercises above.

In addition to rehab, some people benefit greatly from a compression strap worn over the inflamed part of the elbow. It serves to compress the tendons and reduce strain/pull during times of exertion. In extreme cases, physicians resort to cortisone treatments and even surgery to realign the insertion of the musculature, thus reducing tension on the tissue. I generally recommend against cortisone as it can weaken tensile strength and mask the symptoms. The surgery should be a last resort when all conservative measures have failed, but it can be very effective in relieving pain.

The ultimate form of treatment in the early stages is correctly identifying the abusive activity and resting from it to allow the inflammation to go down. If this is an athletic activity, then no problem. If it is work related, then it can be a bigger hassle. But, if you catch it early and take quick measure to treat it, you will have faster, better results. Use pain as your guide and try not to push through it, as this only prolongs the recovery and may do irreparable damage to the soft tissue.


Submitted by DMorgan on Thu, 04/27/2006 - 7:51pm.

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