Now that the weather is starting to warm up (well in a British manner not Mediterranean as we would prefer) we are all hopefully starting to get outside a bit more whether this be pottering in the garden, mowing the lawn, washing the car, playing a round of golf, cycling or even rock climbing. Either way it is safe to say we are getting more active in the summer than we were in colder months. With the marathon tucked nicely away (and with it a lot of knee and ankle patients) and Wimbledon on the horizon we have our tennis enthusiasts and budding golfers starting to appear. This means an increase in tennis/golfers elbow injuries being presented at Woodside Clinic.
What is tennis/golfers elbow?
The medical term is medial (golfers) or lateral (tennis) epicondylitis (epi-con-dee-lie-tis). Or in lay terms inflammation of the tendons that attach onto the inside/outside of the elbow usually through repetitive motion or direct trauma.
“But I don’t play tennis/golf”
Now the term tennis/golfers elbow purely relates to the action of the muscles involved rather than participation in the sport. The forearm flexor muscles (which close the fingers- think gripping) attach onto the inside of the elbow. The forearm extensors do the opposite they extend the wrist (opening fingers lifting wrist backwards) attach onto the outside of the elbow. Try this at home by holding onto the elbow either side and opening/closing fingers into your palm. Any repetitive motion involving these actions or direct trauma will cause inflammation where the muscles attach. When inflammation builds unfortunately pain likes to join in on the party.
Elbow pain (especially tennis/golfers elbows) respond well to treatment if the treatment is started early. Firstly we have to reduce inflammation (anti-inflammatories or ice packs) but also address why they are inflamed (tight muscles/restricted joints). This is done by a combination of soft tissue, joint mobilisation, ultrasound therapy and dry needling. Treatments also include recommendations on exercises and management advice to prevent further chance of re-occurrence.