Are you suffering from a sore, weak, or painful elbow that isn’t getting better?
Maybe you think you just have to live with your discomfort. Or you think surgery is the only option. Think again.
You don’t have to live with your discomfort — and you don’t have to opt for surgery to find relief from pain.
At The Spine Center of Southeast Georgia (with offices in Brunswick, GA and St. Marys, GA), we believe in minimally invasive, non-surgical treatments for treating acute and chronic pain. Our trained doctors take the time to find the root cause of your issue, instead of only treating the symptoms.
We incorporate multiple strategies into every personal treatment plan, and we help you make healthy lifestyle changes for pain management and prevention.
If you have elbow pain, you may have elbow tendonitis, a diagnosis that encompasses both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow — two common conditions involving elbow overuse.
Before we provide you with some non-surgical treatments for tennis and golfer’s elbow, we’ll give you an overview of these two similar painful problems.
Tennis elbow is a painful condition caused when tendons on the outside of your elbow are overused.
Despite the name, most people diagnosed with tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) don’t play tennis — however, half of all tennis players will suffer from this problem at some point during their careers.
People who are at risk of getting tennis elbow include golfers, baseball players, bowlers, plumbers, painters, carpenters, butchers, and others who overwork their elbows on a regular basis.
This type of pain affects men more than women, is most common between the ages of 30 and 50, and is caused by inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow.
When injury is caused to the muscles and tendon area around the outside of the elbow where they attach to the bone, tennis elbow can result. Usually, the dominant arm is affected, but tennis elbow can occur in the non-dominant arm, as well, or in both arms.
Key Takeaway: Tennis elbow is pain felt on the outside of the elbow. Tennis players aren’t the only people to experience this type of pain. Anyone who repeats the same arm and wrist motions again and again may suffer from this condition.
Golfer’s elbow is a painful condition caused when tendons on the inside of the elbow are overused.
This condition (medial epicondylitis) is similar to tennis elbow but is marked by pain over the bone on the inner side of the elbow. When tendons attached to this bone are overstretched or torn, they become painful and inflamed.
This issue is typically seen in the trailing arm in golf and also in the pull-through strokes of swimming. Baseball pitchers also commonly experience this problem.
Overuse of the flexor muscles of the forearms causes golfer’s elbow. Some things that can cause this type of pain include:
- Repetitive gripping
- Using the wrong model of golf clubs
- Improper technique when swinging or gripping golf clubs
- Repetitive motions in sporting activities, such as golf, tennis, pitching, and rowing
- Repetitive motions in other activities, such as raking, painting, and using a hammer or screwdriver
- Improper lifting, throwing, or hitting
Key Takeaway: Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow, but is characterized by pain felt on the inside rather than the outside of the elbow. Both are caused by repetitive motions and overuse, and are not only experienced by tennis players and golfers.
What are the signs and symptoms of tennis and golfer’s elbow?
You might have tennis elbow if you experience:
- Pain or burning on the outside of your elbow, which may extend into your forearm and wrist.
- Weakness on the outside of your elbow.
- Weak grip strength.
The symptoms usually develop gradually.
You might have golfer’s elbow if you experience:
- Pain and tenderness on the inside of your elbow. The pain may extend along the inner side of your forearm.
- Stiffness on your elbow, causing your elbow to hurt when you make a fist.
- Weakness in your hands or wrists.
- Numbness or tingling that radiates into one or more of your fingers (usually the ring and little fingers).
The pain may appear suddenly or gradually.
Any activity that causes repetitive movement can cause elbow pain, but the activity generally needs to be done for more than an hour a day on many days to cause a problem. A direct blow or sudden extreme action to the elbow may also result in an injury of the tendons.
Tendons are slow to heal, so the symptoms often last for weeks to months. However, very few cases last longer than a year.
Patients with tennis or golfer’s elbow often find simple tasks difficult, such as typing, lifting a cup of coffee, or shaking hands with someone. But if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, you have options! Keep reading below.
Key Takeaway: When you experience pain, weakness, or numbness around your elbow, you might have tennis or golfer’s elbow.
What treatment options do you have for elbow pain?
To be most effective in treating elbow pain from tennis and golfer’s elbow, a team approach works best.
At The Spine Center of Southeast Georgia offices, we don’t believe in surgery and addictive painkillers (narcotics) as a first option for treating pain. We believe in a conservative approach that includes alternative options outside of the traditional medical model.
Common treatments for these conditions are rest, ice, corticosteroid injections, and NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen.
But numerous health hazards have been linked to NSAIDs, particularly cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks.
And long-term benefits from corticosteroid injections are not backed by scientific evidence, according to the American Chiropractic Association.
Also, these elbow pain remedies should lessen your symptoms, but they may not cure your problem.
To truly cure your tennis and golfer’s elbow pain, our professionals work together to determine why you’re experiencing pain. We determine the best ways to treat your symptoms and make sure you correct any poor habits.
Here are seven treatments we might suggest for tennis and golfer’s elbow:
1. Modified rest. If you want to recover properly, you need to limit or avoid activities that aggravate your elbow pain. You don’t want to give your elbow total rest, but you do want to modify your activity to use it less without causing more injury to your tendons.
2. Technique and equipment evaluation. If you participate in a sport, we suggest you get your equipment checked for proper support. Stiffer racquets and looser-strung racquets can often reduce the stress on the forearm. You may also want an expert to evaluate your form to determine basic steps to reduce stress on your injured tissue. Even if you don’t participate in sports, you may need to correct incorrect postures and motions.
3. Ice. Applying ice or a cold pack for 15 minutes, three to four times per day can help. Ice treatment after exercise or movement of the elbow is especially important.
4. Braces. When working properly, a brace, a forearm strap, or support pads can reduce symptoms by resting the muscles and tendons of the elbow.
5. Physical therapy. A trained therapist can give you tips on how to rest your elbow and how to do activities without putting extra strain on your elbow. You can also be taught specific exercises to help strengthen the muscles of your forearm. Additionally, therapists can perform massage or other muscle-stimulating techniques to improve muscle healing.
6. Acupuncture. Research from a study mentioned in Acupuncture Today suggests that acupuncture not only relieves symptoms of tennis elbow, but also appears to resolve the condition completely.
7. Lifestyle management. Our doctors can help you adapt to a healthier lifestyle. We teach our patients which foods are best for an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and how to improve their pain in their daily lives. Our trained doctors practice a holistic approach to pain care, meaning we pay attention to the physical, mental, and emotional health of our patients.
If you notice any symptoms of tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, it’s best to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early care will usually be able to prevent pain becoming chronic or the development of a more serious disorder.
Key Takeaway: Some non-surgical treatments for tennis and golfer’s elbow are modified rest, technique and equipment evaluation, ice, braces, physical therapy, acupuncture, and lifestyle management.
The Spine Center of Southeast Georgia can help treat your pain from tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow.
If you’re experiencing elbow pain or discomfort, our doctors can create a customized plan for you. All you need to do is give us a call at either of our office locations, and we’ll help you figure out what’s right for you.
You don’t have to live a life in pain. At The Spine Center of Southeast Georgia, we get to the bottom of your problem and treat your pain using a team approach and nonsurgical, holistic treatments. Contact us today at our location nearest you and let us help you.