Elbow pain can make the simple act of picking up your coffee cup feel miserable.
Elbow problems are common among athletes – pitchers, golfers, tennis players, rock climbers and more, but they also occur from simple repetitive tasks like gardening, typing or cooking. These problems often result from overuse or misuse of your arm. A weak shoulder, a stiff rib cage, or wrist ligament laxity can all contribute to overusing the muscles that attach to the elbow.
A more gradual onset of elbow pain often boils down to a few problems:
Trapped nerves: Nerve irritation from the neck or upper back may radiate pain into the elbow. Over time, the inflamed nerves become entrapped in tissue around the elbow and cause pain. Your PT will assess not only your neck but also the nerve mobility in the arm to determine if that is the source of your pain.
Tendinopathy: With tendinopathy, tendons degenerate and consequently weaken. Treatment requires evaluation of the shoulder and the wrist because often, instability or weakness at the shoulder or wrist causes overuse of the forearm muscles and results in forearm muscle or elbow tendon problems.
- Golfer’s Elbow: If pain occurs on the inside elbow and hurts when curling your fingers, or flexing your wrist, it’s likely a tendinopathy where tendons attaches to the inside elbow joint.
- Tennis Elbow: Pain on the outside of your elbow that increases with, for example, lifting a carton of milk, is probably a tendinopathy at the tendon attachments to the lateral elbow joint.
The first step to finding relief from an elbow problem is an evaluation by your ALTA physical therapist. After we assess your neck, shoulder, elbow, and wrist to discover the root cause of your elbow problem , we’ll design a program to get you feeling better and lifting your coffee cup (or, if you’re a climber, lifting yourself) with ease.