Tennis Elbow: Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

Some of the most common injuries we see are Tennis or Golfers elbow. The interesting thing for each of these ailments is that we see it even in people that don’t play tennis or golf. So what does each look like, and what can you do to prevent it?

Tennis elbow pain is felt on the outside of the arm, often making it difficult to lift or grip items. Despite the name, only about 5% of patients treated for tennis elbow actually get it from playing tennis! Ultimately, this is caused by small tears in the muscles of your arm, which decrease blood flow to the elbow area, causing inflammation. The inflammation is what causes the pain and difficulty in lifting or gripping. The good news is with bodywork treatment it can be cured in 2 to 3 visits rather than several months to a year.

On the flip side we have golfers elbow (also known as pitchers elbow), where the pain is felt on the inside of the arm. This has been aptly named as it is most commonly caused by overuse of the muscles during motions such swinging a golf club, throwing a ball, weight lifting, or even carpentry work.

As you can imagine, with a lot of athletes and weekend warriors I see one of these two issues. By having the patient extend their arm, I can look at the fold of the inner arm to determine if the muscles are pulling either inward or outward which would indicate one of these ailments.

Once identified, the muscles need to be stretched while the adhesions and stagnant tissue are palpated through the arm. Often imbalances are found in the wrist and shoulder as a result of the tight, inflamed elbow muscles. Once adhesions are stretched and released, the joint returns to a balance point with greater range of motion and often the patient experiences a reduction in pain.