Elbow pain – It’s no laughing matter
When we have elbow pain, it certainly doesn’t feel as ‘funny’ as the term ‘funny bone’ suggests!
As chiropractors in Eastbourne we see a lot of elbow pain, especially in a town like ours with such an active population. Also, almost everything we do will affect the musculature in our elbows.
Common types of elbow pain
Medial elbow pain (pain on the inside of the elbow) is commonly known as ‘Golfer’s elbow’, while lateral elbow pain (pain on the outside of the elbow) is often called ‘Tennis elbow’.
This is a misnomer in recent times, as many people performing a variety of activities are developing medial and lateral elbow pain, and they are certainly not exclusively playing tennis or golf.
Similarly, not all golfers will develop ‘golfer’s elbow’ and not all tennis players will develop ‘tennis elbow’.
Another common elbow problem is the temporary, but no less uncomfortable, ‘funny bone’. This occurs when we knock or hit a part of our elbow where the ulnar nerve sits close to the skin, which causes irritation to the nerve making the tissues in the arm (that are innervated by that nerve) feel odd or ‘funny’.
Why is the elbow so commonly injured?
The answer for this, like for a lot of joints of the body, is that we simply overuse it, and then overuse it some more. This will eventually lead to pain and discomfort, and is very similar to the most common causes of shoulder problems (to read a bit more about conditions affecting the shoulder check out our homepage).
If your general activity involves a lot of gripping (hammers and other tools) or working on a computer or at a desk, the chances are your elbow is vulnerable to injury. These are just two common examples, but essentially if you are using your hands and arms a lot in similar and repetitive movement patterns throughout your day, you could develop elbow pain.
Elbow pain is one of those incredibly frustrating conditions that can affect virtually everything you do! Even something as simple as picking up a cup of tea or coffee, or trying to grip a pen.
If you are experiencing these types of problems, it may be time for you to have them investigated and treated. As chiropractors we are well placed to help manage these types of problems, as we can help to facilitate correct joint movement patterns, to lessen the strain on the muscles around the joint, and allow the injured tissues to heal.
Understanding the physics of the elbow
The pattern for elbow injuries tends to be the same for both medial and lateral elbow pain. The medial muscles, or the flexors, tend to become tight and the lateral muscles, or the extensors, tend to become weak.
This imbalance creates a great vulnerability to injury. In fact, as I often see in practice here in Eastbourne, when this imbalance exists, pain can develop on either side of elbow. If you think about the most common movement of the hand and wrist…is it more likely to be gripping, or stretching the fingers?
When you look at it that way, it makes sense that the flexors or ‘grippers’ will be the stronger, tighter muscles, and the extensors or ‘stretchers’ will be weak.
There are six primary lateral muscles that extend the wrist and hand, four of which merge to form the common extensor tendon. There are five primary medial muscles that flex the wrist and merge to form the common flexor tendon.
Injury on one or more of these muscles can lead to damage of these tendons. Chiropractors can often help with damage to these tendons, but in some rare and severe cases further referral and potential surgery may be required.
If you are suffering with pain, do not leave too long to get help, as it is likely to get worse over time. If you are interested in seeing one of our chiropractors or massage therapists here in Eastbourne, check out our website for more information or to book an appointment.
Want to find out more about elbow pain?
If you’ve enjoyed this blog and want to find out more about elbow pain and dysfunction, then please check out one of our other blogs below.
By James Revell
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