“Tennis Elbow” and “Golfer’s Elbow” are two common types of elbow pain. Both conditions are caused by inflammation of the soft tissues near the elbow. As a result of this chronic inflammation (and sometimes scar tissue) the nerves that pass through these areas can easily become entrapped.
Our nerves are responsible for sending important commands throughout the body to keep all our systems functioning properly. They are also a vehicle for sensing pain and compression and alerting the body when there is trouble. When the nerves that pass through the elbow area are blocked by scar tissue and inflammation, patients suffer. Not only do they feel pain and sometimes numbness and tingling, but they also run the risk of losing the free movement and motor function of their hands, wrists and forearms.
Tennis elbow usually causes pain directly at the joint or the muscles just below it. It is a common condition among patients who work long hours sitting at desks, due to the constant typing their jobs can require. Over-extending the wrist, making a tight fist, lifting, and using a mouse are all activities that can aggravate tennis elbow pain. The main nerve affected by tennis elbow is a motor nerve only. It does not have a sensory component. For that reason, most patients with tennis elbow do not experience numbness or tingling. However, they can experience severe pain and weakness in the affected area.
Golfer’s elbow is less common than tennis elbow, but is often accompanied by the numbing and tingling sensations most patients recognize as “nerve pain.” In this condition, the ulnar nerve is adversely affected. This nerve has both sensory and motor components. It is the same nerve you may have experienced pain and tingling in when you hit your “funny bone.” Because the course the ulnar nerve takes around the elbow is virtually unprotected it is very vulnerable to injury. When the ulnar nerve is entrapped due to inflammation or scar tissue formation, it gets pulled and overstretched, especially when the elbow bends. This causes a great deal of pain that frequently radiates as far down as the fingers.
Elbow pain is commonly treated with cortisone or steroid injections in an effort to reduce inflammation. While this approach does in fact reduce the inflammation, it does nothing to correct the patient’s movement pattern, which created the pain in the first place. Rest assured that when the patient resumes the problem-causing activity, the pain will return.
You cannot effectively treat tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow by studying the elbow alone. The nerves that travel through the elbow begin in the neck and work their way through the shoulders, arms and elbows, ending in the fingers. Therefore, effective treatment of elbow pain requires a thorough examination of the entire upper limb and neck, particularly the patient’s range of motion and postural habits.
At ESPRIT WELLNESS, we are committed to discovering the cause of your elbow pain and gently eliminating it. We do this through Active Release Techniques, Graston and physical therapy, highly specialized soft tissue techniques that create rapid and often immediate results. We also offer you a series of exercises you can do on your own to ensure you remain active and pain free.
To end your elbow pain today, contact us at