What can PT do for my Elbow Pain?
Elbow pain is most commonly caused by tendonitis, an over use injury, but can also be caused by sprains to the ligaments around the elbow, and compression of the nerves that run beside the elbow. (For more information specific to tendonitis, please visit our "What is Tendonitis?" page.)
Tennis Elbow/ Golfers Elbow:
These diagnoses were so named because they are common injuries in these sports. However, you do not have to be a tennis player or golfer to get have this injury. They are simply tendonitis, inflammation of the tendons that attach the muscles of the forearm to the bones near the elbow. They are common in people who perform repetitive tasks such as typing/computer work, styling hair, or gardening. It is also common in parents of infants that carry their child in a carseat/carrier.
Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, effects the common extensor tendon. When the wrist is extended, back of the hand brought toward the forearm, pain occurs near the elbow. If you place your fingers on the muscle that pops up near your elbow when you perform this movement you will be on the common extensor group of muscles. Slide up toward the elbow and you will be on the tendon. If pain is produced here, you have tennis elbow.
Golfer’s elbow effects the flexor tendons of the forearm, and is called medial epicondylitis. To find this muscle group, flex the forearm, bring the palm toward the forearm, and feel for the muscles that bulge. Slide your fingers up toward the elbow. If tenderness if found, you may have golfer’s elbow.
How to treat:
- Contact your physical therapist at the first sign of pain or discomfort. Your therapist will identify the cause of the pain and give you immediate tools to manage your pain and modify your activities to prevent further pain and inflammation.
- Rest from activities that cause pain
- Stretch to maintain good motion and mobility of the tissues involved
- Apply ice after activities that cause pain.
- Strengthen the muscle involved.
For other types of elbow pain, your physical therapist can help diagnose and treat the problem so you can continue the work activities, and other activities you love without pain.