Elbow Pain & Physiotherapy
Although usually not serious, because you use your elbow in so many ways, elbow pain can have a notable impact on your life. Your elbow is a complex hinge joint that allows you to straighten and bend your arm as well as rotate your hand and forearm. Most movements of the upper limb are a combination of these actions, and so at times it may be difficult to describe what exactly brings on the pain.
Other than traumatic injuries ,the majority of elbow pain results from overuse injuries. There are many sports, hobbies and jobs which require a combination of repetitive hand, wrist or arm movements.
Arthritic changes occasionally contribute to elbow pain, but ingeneral, your elbow joint is much less prone to wear-and-tear than many of your other joints.
Causes of elbow pain
While the most common cause of elbow pain is from overuse injuries there are many other conditions which should be ruled out, other conditions can include: broken bones, inflamed bursa, cubital tunnel syndrome (ulnar nerve irritation) dislocation,ligament sprains or tears, little league elbow syndrome (pitchers elbow), osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteochondritis dissecans, stress fracture, trapped nerves, throwing injuries, tennis elbow, golfers elbow.
Of the above complaints the most common occurrences is a condition called Epicondylitis a repetitive strain injury, where repeat loading causes micro-tearing and tendon inflammation, in advanced cases progressive degeneration can occur.
Tennis elbow affects the tendons and muscles arising from the lateral epicondyle. Sufferers present with discomfort in the forearm, a reduction in functional movement and increased pain with specific activities. The onset of symptoms may be traumatic, however in most cases it is insidious, with symptoms progressing over days, weeks or even months.
Lateral epicondylitis sufferers will have a history of repeated wrist extension and forearm supination in elbow extension. Although this is a common condition in racquet sports enthusiasts, it is also seen is manual labourers who must use tools to fix screws or office workers who click a mouse repetitively.
Medial epicondylitis sufferers will have a history of repeated wrist flexion and forearm pronation in elbow flexion. Throwing and climbing sports are a common cause as well as manual labour involving carrying loads.
The First Step in Treatment is relative rest from the aggravating activity.Treatment for epicondylitis works best when it starts as soon as symptoms appear. If your condition is just starting, rest may be all you need. But in most cases, more treatment is needed to protect and heal the tendon
Simple Drugs such as Panadol and aspirin are readily available however provide little effect with severe long term pain.
Anti-inflammatory creams and gels (NSAIDs) again readily available but with little evidence to suggest use with long-term pain relief.
Corticosteroid injections catabolic steroids are injected into the site to reduce pain and swelling, relief can be quick offering short term pain relief. Injections can be quite painful with possible side effects including wasting away of surrounding tissue. This treatment is ineffective for long term pain relief and symptoms may return. Injections can be quite painful with possible side effects including wasting away of surrounding tissue. This treatment is ineffective for long term pain relief and symptoms may return.
Surgery involving cleaning up or removing the tendon has a high success rate. It is seen however, as a last resort requiring long periods of recovery.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, approximately 80% to 95% of patients achieve success from a non-surgical approach movement through massage, manual therapy and stretching exercises.
Acupuncture: needles are inserted into the area surrounding the affected area to provide pain relief, side effects are usually quite mild and short lived.
Physiotherapy uses an array of different techniques massage, dry needling, strengthening, stretching, strapping, mobilisation and prescription of braces or bandages. Physiotherapy is thought to provide a more effective long term relief than some other treatments
Initial home treatment –Treatment for tennis elbow works best when it starts as soon as symptoms appear. If your condition is just starting, rest may be all you need. But in most cases, more treatment is needed to protect and heal the tendon.
You can treat your tennis elbow by:
Reducing pain. As soon as you notice pain use ice or cold packs for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, several times a day. Always put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. Keep using ice as long as it relieves pain. Stopping or changing activities that may irritate the tendon. Learn new techniques for certain movements, and use different equipment that may reduce the stress on your forearm muscles. Wrist and elbow splints can be used in the treatment of tennis elbow. Splints are sometimes helpful for other bone, joint, and tendon problems. But splints have not been shown to help with pain or recovery for tennis elbow injuries.
Self-care your first line of defense. Most elbow pain improves with simple home treatments, such as:
Rest: Avoid the activity that caused your injury.
Ice: Place an ice pack on the sore area for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day.
Compression: Use a compression bandage toreduce swelling.
Elevation: Keep your arm elevated to help reduce swelling
Stretches. Should be done at least 3 times a day, with each stretch 15-20 seconds duration
Please don’t hesitate to contact our clinic for further information and remember
that we have FREE Physio Assessments available for March and April for New Patients.