According to the NHS its estimated that as many as one in three people have elbow pain at any given time. There are few different terms thrown around when referring to elbow pain, like golfers elbow, arthritis or osteoarthritis but the one everyone knows is tennis elbow.
“Can you only get tennis elbow from playing Tennis?”
Tennis Elbow is a condition that causes pain around the outside of the elbow while Golfers Elbow causes pain around the inside of the elbow near your funny bone.
Tennis Elbow is clinically known as lateral epicondylitis while Golfers Elbow is known as medial epicondylitis.
Both conditions can happen as a result of specific injury, but more often they are as a result of overuse and repetitive strain. Strains from tasks and activities that involve gripping, rotating your arm and flexing your wrist.
The elbow joint is surrounded by muscles that move your elbow, wrist and fingers. The tendons in your elbow join the bones and muscles together and control the muscles of your forearm. If the muscles and tendons are overused and strained, tiny tears and inflammation can develop.
It’s not just tennis players and golfers that suffer.
As the names suggest these conditions can be prominent after activities such as tennis or golf which involve repetitive movements in similar patterns. However, these conditions can also appear after other sports like badminton, squash, bowling or gymnastics. It can also appear as a result of manual labour like decorating or even playing instruments like the guitar or violin.
These conditions usually effects adults and is more common in people who are 40-60 years of age and both men and women are equally affected.
Tennis & Golf Elbow are self-limiting conditions, which means it will eventually get better without treatment.
With self -limiting conditions it is worth ruling out whether any other conditions are present which could conflict the recovery procedure.
If your elbow pian is caused by a strenuous or repetitive activity, you should avoid the activity until your symptoms improve. If your problem continues to persist despite resting it for a few day’s it is advisable to visit your doctor. They will check for swelling and tenderness, and carry out some simple tests, such as asking you to extend your fingers and flex your wrist with your elbow extended.
Further tests, such as an ultrasound scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan will only be needed if it is thought that your pain is being caused by nerve damage.
Despite Tennis and Golfers’ Elbow being self-limiting conditions there are treatments that can be used to improve symptoms and improve recovery.
REST - First up is to rest your injured arm and to stop doing the activity that’s causing the elbow pain.
ICE – Icing or placing a cold compress on the elbow where the pain is located for 15 minutes a few times a day can help ease the pain. This is to encourage fresh oxygenated blood flow through the elbow joint to help the repair of the tiny tears and inflammation around the arm and elbow joint.
COMPRESSION – A compression support or sleeve will also help contribute to increasing the blood flow through the joint and arm and help alleviate the pain.
PAINKILLERS – Taking painkillers like a paracetamol may help reduce mild elbow pain, ibuprofen and anti inflammatories can also be used to help reduce inflammation.
PHYSIOTHERAPY – If problems continue to persist and the pain is severe, massaging and manipulating by a physiotherapist. Coupled with specific exercises may help relieve the arm pain and elbow stiffness.
Most cases of tennis elbow last between six months and two years. However, according to the NHS, about nine out of ten cases a full recovery is made within a year.