Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is inflammation of the inner part of the elbow. Tennis Elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is inflammation of the outer part to the elbow. Both of these conditions are an inflammation of the tendon that attaches the forearm muscles to the bone. Anyone can get medial or lateral epicondylitis, not just people who play golf or tennis. These are common injuries for people who do a lot of repetitive motions with their hands and arms, including swinging a golf club or tennis racquet, using hand tools, painting, cooking, or working on the computer a lot. It can be a one-time, traumatic injury, or an accumulation of “micro-traumas” associated with repetitive activities. Epicondylitis most commonly occurs in adults 30-50 years old. If left unaddressed, this can become a chronic inflammation injury. When either of these injuries become long-standing or chronic, they are often referred to as medial or lateral epicondylalgia.
A person with either medial or lateral epicondylitis may notice pain, inflammation, or swelling at the elbow, weakness in gripping activities, and pain with elbow or wrist motions. The wrist and hand are often involved because the muscles that move the wrist and hand all start up at the elbow. Epicondylitis is also often related to weakness in the shoulder and stiffness in the spine of the neck or upper back. When there is weakness in the shoulder, or stiffness in the neck or upper back, people often compensate by over using the arm, and this leads to pain in the elbow.
Medial and lateral epicondylitis can often be treated successfully without medication or surgical intervention with Physical Therapy. A physical therapist will evaluate how the elbow and shoulder move, the strength of the shoulder and arm, the quality of movement, and functional activity ability. Physical Therapy will often include hands-on treatment to help relieve soft tissue restrictions and improve range of motion of the elbow, shoulder, and neck and upper back, as well as specific therapeutic exercises and activities to improve strength, posture, and mobility. We often use a Rogue strap and R8 roller to help improve soft tissue mobility. Treatment will often use a modaility such as a cold pack or ice massage to help reduce inflammation. There are also various taping techniques that can be used to help unload the inflamed tissue, or to improve shoulder posture to provide optimal movement for the upper extremity as a whole.
If you are experiencing symptoms that sound like this and want to know more, come see us at InMotion OC for a FREE consultation for Physical Therapy.