How To Treat Your Tennis Or Golfer’s Elbow

Pain in the elbow that stretches throughout one’s arm and even hand is often referred to as ‘tennis elbow’ or ‘golfer’s elbow.’ If you are having a hard time accomplishing simple tasks such as picking up and drinking a cup of coffee, lifting a pencil or pen to write and other similar tasks, you could be suffering from tennis elbow (Lateral epicondylitis).

Tennis elbow usually begins when performing normal activities. At this point, you may not recognize the pain as it can come and go. As the injury heightens, you will find that doing simple activities has become strenuous and you have to take multiple pauses just to stop the severity of the pain.

The difference between tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow is where the pain is felt. In tennis elbow, the pain is usually felt on the outside of the elbow. It can run from right above the outside of the elbow to down the back of the forearm. Golfer’s elbow is felt in the inside of the elbow (the side closest to facing you).  

How Does it Occur?

Tennis or Golfer’s elbow generally occurs from competitive contraction and strain that can cause the muscles in the arm to tense, affecting the outside of the arm. The lateral epicondyle, the tendon connecting the forearm muscles together wears out over time from overuse of this muscle. As you bend the elbow forward, move it backward and put extensive pressure on it, it begins to wear out.

As the muscles are repetitively used, tissue inside the elbow begin to weaken and eventually the tissue tears apart. However, the tears in the tissues are not the reason for the tenderness and pain felt, the tears come from using the muscle over and over again. These count as multiple injuries stacked on top of each other. As you begin to grip your hands, pick up a cup, or write a note, that pain will come in explosions then disappear, leaving you to wonder what happened.

Pain in the elbow has been related to injuries in the neck as well. Neck lesions can sometimes course through your body, affecting other areas like your elbow. That’s why when you use an osteopathic doctor to treat your tennis elbow, they can check for neck pain that is possibly causing your elbow pain.

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

The main symptoms of tennis elbow include moderate to severe pain that is felt in the elbow, stretches down the forearm and even extends throughout each of one’s fingers. This pain will elevate when you begin to do certain tasks and can be felt at night early on for some.

How Can I Manage the Pain of Tennis or Golfer’s Elbow?

As you wait until your appointment with an Osteopathic Doctor, two things you can to do to ease the pain are icing the injured area and doing slow stretches with the elbow and forearm. Be careful not to put anymore extensive pressure on the injured arm and take precaution when gripping your hands to pick something up. If the pain consists, taking an anti-inflammatory can help you get through the pain outbursts, but be sure to consult with your doctor about the appropriate dosage.

Osteopathic Treatment Options

Tennis elbow is mostly seen in people who are between the ages 40 to 60, but can be found in younger athletes as well. Depending on your age and the severity of pain, the length of the treatment will differ. Treating tennis elbow early on can net many benefits, whereas waiting on treatment could lead to a difficult recovery.

An Osteopathic Doctor will begin by evaluating your past medical history along with performing a full physical examination. As the Osteopathic doctor begins to examine your arm, they will have you perform simple tests and make a custom plan for you to treat and manage the pain of your tennis elbow.

Osteopathic Doctors use non-invasive treatments, so you can expect a doctor to use massage and manipulation techniques to help you recover. This will involve direct and indirect techniques that compress and relax the forearm muscles in order to stimulate the tissue and soothe the pain.

In addition, an osteopathic can offer you advice for stretches and exercises that will help you manage the pain at home and help you along your way to recovery.

Dr. David Johnston Dr. David Johnston is a licensed, board certified osteopathic physician with more than twenty years experience working with infants, children, and adults. He pursued his childhood dream of becoming a physician and currently has a successful private practice in Ridgefield, CT.

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