What is the pain in my elbow?

Author

Article by Rhys Veen

Date

Published in 2023

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Read the blog below to solve a potential elbow diagnosis you have been looking for…

Introduction:
Golfers elbow and tennis elbow are two similar but distinct conditions that can affect the elbow. In this article, we will break down these common elbow injuries, helping you understand the differences between them and how to approach their assessment and rehabilitation.

Assessment:
The primary distinction between golfers elbow and tennis elbow lies in their location. Golfers elbow, also known as pitchers elbow or medial epicondylalgia, is characterized by pain on the inside of the elbow, with your palms facing forwards. On the other hand, tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylalgia, is identified by pain on the outside of the elbow. Understanding the location of your pain can provide insights into your potential diagnosis.

Both conditions share similar symptoms, including:

  1. Constant or intermittent pain.
  2. Pain that radiates from the elbow to the fingers (top of the forearm for tennis elbow or palm side for golfer’s elbow), with potential referral up the arm.
  3. Weak and/or painful grip on the affected side.
  4. A feeling of forearm and hand fatigue or heaviness.
  5. Not associated with trauma.
  6. Gradual worsening of symptoms.
  7. Pain exacerbated at the beginning and end of exercise or activities.

Pathology:
Golfers and tennis elbow are both tendon overload injuries, often caused by overuse. These injuries occur when repetitive activities strain the tendon attached to the elbow without allowing sufficient time for healing. This strain leads to inflammation and micro-tears in the tendon. While the inflammation typically subsides within 2-7 days, the tendon is still in the process of healing due to the abnormal arrangement of collagen fibers and fiber separation, which may take 4-8 weeks to fully heal.

Rehabilitation:
Whether you’ve been experiencing golfers or tennis elbow for a short or extended period, beginning therapy is crucial. Initially, it’s essential to avoid activities that aggravate your elbow, but it’s equally important to continue moving the elbow, wrist, fingers, and shoulder to prevent complete inactivity. Avoid immobilising your arm in a sling.

Seek assistance from your physiotherapist for tailored exercises as everyone’s presentation is unique. Rehabilitation typically begins with isometric and active range of motion exercises and progresses to strength exercises and return to activity exercises.

By consistently following your prescribed exercises and adhering to the advice provided, you can expect your pain to reduce more quickly than if you were to do nothing. Our team of physiotherapists is here to support your recovery.

Conclusion:
Golfers elbow and tennis elbow are common conditions, but with proper diagnosis and guided rehabilitation, you can effectively manage and alleviate your symptoms. Seek assistance from your physiotherapist at Veen Physiotherapy in Bunbury, WA, follow their personalised exercise plan, and adhere to their expert guidance. Your commitment to recovery will significantly impact the speed and success of your healing process.


Reference:

  1. Kiel J, Kaiser K. Golfers Elbow. [Updated 2022 Jun 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet].
    Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519000/
  2. Cutts S, Gangoo S, Modi N, Pasapula C. Tennis elbow: A clinical review article. J
    Orthop. 2019 Aug 10;17:203-207. doi: 10.1016/j.jor.2019.08.005. PMID: 31889742;
    PMCID: PMC6926298.

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