Elbow pain is a common complaint of athletes, individuals who play tennis, golf or bowl, or persons who have suffered a collision or traumatic injury. Elbow pain can be excruciating!
There are three specific elbow pain related conditions:
1. Lateral Epicondylitis or Tennis Elbow
A localized pain that can shoot down the arm. It is typically an overuse injury, in which repetitive motions at both the wrist and the elbow cause stress at what is known as the extensor bundle. The extensor bundle is a common tendon that attaches above the elbow and has several muscle attachments down the lower arm.
2. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
A condition in which pressure on the ulnar nerve at the elbow can cause pain at the elbow, but may also radiate down the arm.
3. Medial Epicondylitis or Golfer’s Elbow
Similar to tennis elbow in each mode of injury in that repetitive stress is most often the cause. However, the stress occurs with motions that involve pronation of the wrist and flexion of the elbow, similar to that of removing a screw.
Lateral Epicondylitis or Tennis Elbow
When performing repetitive motions like tightening a screw, this tendon can become inflamed and cause pain with motion.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Pressure on the ulnar nerve can be caused by muscle tension/inflammation, but also by a traumatic blow to the backside of the elbow also known as the “funny bone”. It is the blow to the nerve and not any bone that causes this pain.
Medial Epicondylitis or Golfer’s Elbow
Stress occurs on the inside of the elbow at what is known as the flexor bundle. Overuse of this musculature will cause localized pain to the area that may also radiate down the arm.
Lateral Epicondylitis or Tennis Elbow & Medial Epicondylitis or Golfer’s Elbow
Treatment involves decreasing pain and inflammation, strengthening and stretching the muscles involved, and retraining these motions in a controlled manner. This treatment will include a variety of modalities as appropriate for each patient including ultrasound, electrical stimulation, ice or heat, laser, and massage to decrease inflammation and pain.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome:
Treatment involves decreasing inflammation or any muscle tension in the area and strengthening to stabilize the area. Surgery is also an option for more involved cases to release the nerve. Following any surgery, therapy will be prescribed to restore function.