Oh, My Aching Elbow!
Chris Kolba PT MHS CSCS
Ohio State Sports Med @ BJES
Elbow pain can be a painful and debilitating problem. Pain located on the medial side is referred to as “golfers elbow” or medial epicondylitis and pain that is on the lateral side is often referred to as “tennis elbow” or lateral epicondylitis. Now you don’t have to play golf or tennis to develop these problems. Pain in the elbow usually occurs as a result of repetitive use from throwing, typing, hammering, grip/ lifting or swinging a club, racquet or bat. It can occur over time or with a sudden episode. Symptoms include pain with; grip, turning door handles or car ignition, fully extending or bending arm, typing, using the mouse or your sport activity. Swelling and tenderness can also present. Pain can range from minor irritation to significant limitations in use of hand/ arm. Often times treatment includes limitation of exacerbating activity, stretches, specific exercises, use of a forearm strap and various pain modalities like ice, electrical stimulation.
We have also found that stretching and strengthening the hip further enhances the recovery from elbow pain. The hip you ask? Yes, the hips (and trunk) are the power generators for the body. Think of hitting a baseball, swinging a golf club or tennis racquet. In order to swing, lift, push, or pull forcefully you must rotate the hips and trunk to increase force generation. If unable to load the hips/trunk due to weakness or limited motion (tightness) you will likely compensate by using the arm muscles more. Over time this can lead to tissue stress and “bam” the elbow starts to hurt. By improving hip mobility and the working relationship between the elbow, shoulder, trunk and hips we have seen marked improvement in our ability to address this painful condition. Due to the fact that we sit a lot and sleep in the fetal position our hips naturally get tight and develop muscle imbalances. Like we always say, “it’s all connected”. Seeking a sports medicine professional who understands function and the relationships of human movement to sport can greatly improve yourchances of overcoming your elbow pain.OSU offers free injury screens at their BJES Sports Med clinic Mon and Wed. 5p-7p. No appt. necessary.