The most common problem of the elbow is “tennis elbow,” which is an inflammation of muscles on the outside of the elbow. These muscles attach above the elbow and course down the forearm. Their function is to lift the wrist. If tendinitis occurs on the inside of the elbow, it is called golfer’s elbow. It is most frequently caused by overuse, although it can result from a traumatic blow. Symptoms include tenderness directly over the affected muscles and frequently the pain radiates down into the forearm, particularly with use of the hand and wrist. Usually, symptoms come on gradually but they can appear rather suddenly, particularly after an activity that involves repetitive motion such as planting a garden, or a great deal of writing or typing.
Rest is important to allow the muscles to recover. If activities are painful, they need to be altered, or stopped until the elbow has had a chance to heal. Heat, followed by a stretching and strengthening program, and then ice massage is quite helpful. A tennis elbow strap is also helpful to alleviate some of the pressure from the muscle attachment. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines decrease the pain and inflammation. If symptoms persist beyond two to four weeks, a physician should be consulted. Steroid injections may be used and sometimes even a cast is necessary to alleviate the symptoms.
For more information about tennis or golfer's elbow, please call (918) 494-AOOK (2665).