Important Anatomy of the Elbow
The Elbow is a joint consisting of three bones functioning together - the humerus of the upper arm and the radius and ulna of the forearm. This means that there are 3 functioning joints making up the elbow allowing it to bend and/or rotate.
The biceps and triceps muscles of the upper arm are strong levers that give us the strength to push and lift weights using the elbow as a fulcrum.
The outside joint of the elbow is called the Lateral Epicondyle and the inside joint is the Medial Epicondyle. Attached to these epicondyles are the posterior and anterior forearm muscles and these move our fingers, allowing us to write, type and grip things.
What Causes Elbow Pain?
Joint pain within the elbow can occur from degenerative arthritis, old fractures or joint inflammation. Impact related joint pain can occur from punching something or a knock/fall on the joint itself.
Tendon pain in the elbow is very common and results from overstrain of the muscles, usually of the forearm. Medial epicondyle tendon pain is often called Golfer's Elbow and Lateral Epicondyle tendon pain is called Tennis Elbow. Golf and Tennis are not the main cause of this pain - usually it is a repetitive strain injury from carrying something heavy or overworking the hands with computer work or other manual labour such as using power tools or a screwdriver.
What to Do if You have Elbow Pain
First things first, you need an accurate diagnosis. Your Osteopath will be able to quickly determine if it is pain in the elbow joints or muscle tendonitis. Once the diagnosis is made then it becomes easier to treat the problem.
For early stage Elbow pain then your Osteopath can begin massage, ultrasound therapy and work on the arm to promote healing. They will give advice on how to rest, ice and apply compression. You may be recommended to get a forearm support to enable the muscles of the forearm to recover from strain injury. At K&T Osteopathy we will always direct you to the support most suitable for your pain.
For long term Elbow Pain, it can get more complicated. Your Osteopath will treat the elbow pain but may also need to treat your neck and shoulder as these areas often become involved. In some instances they may also recommend seeing a Specialist for a Cortisone Injection or Autologous Blood Injection. In very rare cases, the ulna nerve may be compressed and your Osteopath will recommend seeing a Specialist immediately to ensure that the nerve is not damaged.
The secret of any repetitive strain injury to the arm, and especially the shoulder and elbow, is to seek help as soon as you can. Early detection and prevention will help prevent this problem becoming chronic and disabling.