Tennis elbow is the common name given to pain originating on the outside or lateral side of the elbow. This condition arises from an irritation or inflammation of the tendons of one or several forearm muscles at their attachment to the bony protuberance close to the elbow joint, known as the lateral epicondyle. Therefore the medical term for this condition is lateral epicondylitis, meaning an inflammation of the epicondyle. If the condition is located on the inside or medial side of the elbow it is often referred as Golfer’s Elbow or medial epicondylitis. This, however, is not as prevalent as lateral epicondylitis.
There are many causes for Epicondylitis – not just tennis & golf – as any activity that involves repetitive gripping of objects can result in this affliction. Some individuals develop tennis or golfer’s elbow from prolonged carrying of heavy bags, knitting, chopping food, and/or computer work using improper wrist and arm posture. With sports, the problem arises when we are new to the game, use an improper technique, try out new racquets or clubs, or increase the intensity or duration of exercise without the proper preparation.
Sometimes the condition can be so severe that it is difficult to even grip and lift one’s coffee cup!
Some cases involving epicondylitis can be attributed to problems further up the arm or even in the neck. If someone has a disc condition or spinal subluxation, the nerves that control the forearm muscles may become irritated causing the muscles to tense and put marked strain on the tendon attachment(s). In these circumstances, this predisposes an individual to elbow pain from any of the above mentioned causes. If left untreated it is possible that the joints of the elbow can become subluxated further and even arthritis can be a complication the condition.
Epicondylitis is a condition that rarely resolves of its own accord and so requires proper health management. A qualified professional such as your chiropractor can determine the exact cause of the problem and initiate the proper care and treatment. In my clinic this would include modalities such as ultrasound, electrotherapy, massage, hot and cold treatments, bracing and home stretching and exercises. Chiropractic adjustments have proven extremely effective in the overall management of this problem.