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Swinging Elbow Pain Away with Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic Care for Elbow Pain Relief

Have you ever stretched your arm to reach for something and been met with a painful, stiff twinge in your elbow? Or maybe you've been bothered by a persistent ache or hot spot around the elbow?  We’re not talking about that post-workout pain after a long gym hiatus (hey, no judgment). This is the kind of pain you almost expect – It’s like a slow burn from your occupation or hobby.  It's not surprising, considering our elbows are at the center of so much of what we do every day, from typing out an email, pouring a cup of coffee, and picking up the kiddos.

But there’s a tipping point when that dull discomfort evolves into something more painful and specific than just overuse. The culprit? It goes by two well-known and often misunderstood names. Pain on the outside of the elbow is known as “tennis elbow” or lateral epicondylitis, while discomfort on the inside is referred to as “golfer's elbow” or medial epicondylitis, both conditions highlighting the elbow's vulnerability to excessive strain. 

But here's the twist – You don't need to be a Wimbledon wannabee or a golf pro to get hit with these aches. The pain is inevitable regardless of any sports involvement. It’s like the term “runner’s knee”. The runner isn’t the only one with pain but is doing something common enough to own the name. 

In this article, we're diving into the world of tennis and golfer's elbow—unpacking the differences and swinging up insights on how chiropractic care can reduce pain and also help with preventative care. 

A Swing and a Miss: Understanding the Signs and Symptoms

Has rubbing your elbow area or forearm become part of your normal routine? Tennis and Golfer's elbow have a funny way of sneaking up on you like that. Let’s look at the signs and symptoms of each one. 

Tennis Elbow: Not Just for Tennis Players

Tennis elbow occurs when your elbow tendons become inflamed from overuse or repetitive stress, especially when the repetitive action involves the forearm muscles. Imagine your tendons are like the strings, and every time you use your wrist or forearm, you're pulling on those strings. Now, imagine doing that over and over again. That's where tennis elbow creeps in, causing inflammation and degeneration causing microtears where the tendon meets the bone. Guess what? The pain doesn’t care if you swing a tennis racket once in your life. The condition is more common for those between the ages of 30 and 55 when tendons start showing signs of wear and tear.  

Tennis Elbow Symptoms to Watch Out For:

  • A burning sensation or pain that travels from your elbow down to your wrist.

  • Pain intensifies when you flex or rotate your arm, especially during tasks that require extending the wrist or turning motions, like lifting objects or opening a jar.

  • Swelling around the elbow, making it appear larger than its counterpart.

  • Stiffness when extending the arm. 

In general, tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, typically arises from repetitive use and strain of the wrist, hand, forearm, and elbow. It's worth noting that tennis elbow is much more common, occurring seven times more frequently than golfer's elbow, its counterpart on the inside of the arm. 

Golfer's Elbow: The Inside Story

While tennis elbow gets noticed for causing pain on the outside of the elbow, golfer's elbow—or medial epicondylitis, to give it its official title—targets the inside. Though it shares the repetitive motion and overuse caused by tennis elbow, a golfer's elbow affects a different group of muscles and tendons, leading to discomfort and irritation on the inner part of the elbow.

Don't be fooled by the name; golfer's elbow isn't exclusive to those who frequent the fairways. Anyone engaging in activities that require a lot of gripping, twisting, or lifting might find themselves dealing with this particular strain. It's a clear sign from our bodies that even they have their breaking points with repetitive strains.

Golfer’s Elbow Symptoms:

  • Pain or tenderness on the inside of the elbow, extending along the inner forearm.

  • Sharp pain occurs when clenching your hand into a fist, holding onto items, or twisting your wrist—bending the wrist or gripping with your palm upwards, like swinging a golf club.

  • Weakness in the hands and wrists, making everyday tasks challenging.

  • Stiffness in the elbow, particularly in the morning or after periods of inactivity, makes it difficult to fully extend the arm.

Common Risk Factors Beyond Sports

While the common terms 'tennis elbow' and 'golfer's elbow' definitely hint at athletic origins, the reality is that these conditions extend far beyond sports. In our day-to-day lives, we often unintentionally form habits, good and bad, just as basic as how we stand in line for coffee, sit in our office chairs, or even get into our cars.  Occupations and hobbies involving repetitive arm movements—clicking and scrolling with a mouse, engaging in DIY projects like painting, or professions like carpentry, plumbing, commercial painting, massage therapy, and even a driver —serve as common catalysts for elbow pain. The essence of the issue is the repetitive strain and overuse it places on the muscles and tendons around the elbow.

Interestingly, in a demographic study by the National Library of Medicine, tennis players account for a mere 10% of those affected by tennis elbow, despite half experiencing elbow pain, with 75% of these cases being genuine instances of tennis elbow. As you can see, that’s quite a few non-tennis players impacted by this sneaky condition. 

Elbow Risk Factors Diving into what causes tennis and golfer's elbow is like looking at a map filled with different warning signs. Sure, doing the same motion over and over or certain jobs can cause pain in your elbow. But there's more to it. Getting older, especially once you hit 40, can make you more likely to run into these elbow troubles. It's like our tendons are telling us they've seen better days. 

Lifestyle choices like smoking or carrying extra weight can also have a negative impact. And if your day involves a lot of repeating the same movements for hours or lifting heavy stuff, your elbows are going to feel it more as you get older.

It might seem overwhelming, thinking about how to live without bugging your elbows. You might be wondering, "So, what am I supposed to do?" But here's a bit of good news, even though tennis and golfer's elbow can be a pain, they usually get better with chiropractic care. 

Chiropractic Care For Elbow Pain

When it comes to elbow pain, whether from tennis elbow or golfer's elbow, chiropractic care stands out for its holistic approach to treatment. Unlike solutions that merely dull the pain temporarily, chiropractic care dives deep to tackle the root cause of your discomfort. 

A key advantage of chiropractic care for elbow pain is its comprehensive treatment approach, which may include joint adjustments where they gently move your elbow back and forth to realign it, soft tissue therapy, and mobilization techniques that boost the flow of oxygen-rich blood and nutrients, accelerating the recovery process. These methods work together to restore proper alignment and movement in the elbow. 

Chiropractors also place a significant emphasis on prevention, offering valuable advice on maintaining proper technique during activities and ergonomic setups that support elbow health. They may suggest specific exercises aimed at strengthening and stretching the muscles around the elbow. Check out our ergonomic tips for spine health

Chiropractors can’t turn back the clock, but they can tailor a treatment plan just for you. If you are experiencing any pain in your elbow area, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation.  

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