By Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson
The elbow is a synovial joint which is made up of the arm bone (humerus) and the forearm bones (radius & ulna), with 23 muscles and tendons which contribute to the movement of the elbow, wrist and hand. Elbow pain and conditions are often caused by overuse and trauma, with pain often firstly presenting only during aggravating activities, but worsening when the tissues are overloaded.
What are the common causes of elbow pain?
Some of the common conditions which contribute to Elbow pain include:
- Tennis Elbow
- Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)
- Triceps Tendonitis
- Panner’s Disease
What are the common structures which contribute to elbow pain?
What you can do to help yourself with your elbow pain?
If your injury is due to overuse or overloading of tissues in the area surrounding the elbow, it is important to give them time to heal and take time to rest. Acute injuries can progress to chronic issues if not addressed appropriately. Icing of the elbow (with the icepack avoiding direct skin contact) is encouraged in both acute injuries and those from repetitive or overuse micro-traumas. This will aim to discourage inflammation and provide some mild analgesia to the region. Anti-inflammatory gel may also be of benefit.
If your injury is bought on by occupational repetitive motions, it is important to have these addressed. This may mean performing lighter duties, utilising appropriate ergonomic aids or correcting your desk set up to place less stress on the elbow region. Bracing or strapping may be recommended in some cases of elbow pain.
When should you seek professional help for your elbow pain?
You should considering seeking professional advice for pain in your elbow if you are experiencing the following:
- Pain becoming more intense
- Pain present at rest
- Inability to perform daily activities/hobbies
- Redness, swelling or deformity
What will a health practitioner do to help with your elbow pain?
A health practitioner, such as an Osteopath, Chiropractor, or Physiotherapist, will take the time to best establish which tissues are responsible for your pain and symptoms. This will involve a process of asking questions, assessing range of motion and tissue texture, and performing provocative testing of the elbow. If after this process it is still unclear what the cause of your pain is, you may be sent for further imaging.
Hands on therapy will attempt to address any biomechanical issues of the arm (considering the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand) as well as stretching and decreasing tension in the forearm/arm muscles to minimise pain. This will be complemented with advice and adjuncts (such as stretching, rehabilitation, bracing/strapping, etc.) to continue your progress until your next session.
For more information on other conditions of the arm, click on the following links: