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Golfer's / Tennis Elbow - What Are They And How To Treat Them

Hello everyone,

Golfer's and Tennis elbows are very common. First, let's give you the medical terminology for the both of them. They are medically known as medial and lateral epicondylitis. The pain associated with them are in the inside and outside of the elbow, with the arm in anatomical position, which is with the hand facing forward. Medial is on the inside and lateral is on the outside. In my experience, lateral epicondylitis is much more common than medial.

The condition is an inflammation of the origin of the forearm muscles. All of the forearm muscles that bends the wrist backward attach to the outside of the elbow and all the muscles that bend the wrist forward attach to the inside of the elbow. When these attachment sites become inflamed, they become painful upon use with tightness in the muscle, making it painful to bend the elbow.

The pain is most noticeable with use of the hand when grasping something strongly and attempting to lift it, especially if the thumb is facing upward or inward. The pain can be very strong and most of the time comes on without any reason or injury and can last for quite a while. And if you have had this before, your have probably had it more than one time, and in the same arm.

Hopefully, the condition will resolve on its own, but they usually last longer than you would like. Treatment will decrease the duration of the condition, and treatment can consist of treatment in the office as well as home therapy. Treatment in the office would consist of ultrasound therapy, and soft tissue massage. Some would expect to use ice on this, however heat works much better. To treat it at home, I instruct patients to use heat on the area, then massage the area with some lotion for 2-3 minutes, and then use some heat again. This needs to be done daily. The condition may take a week or three to resolve. An important thing to remember is to try to use the arm normally. Don't stop using it thinking that the rest will fix it. Us it normally, such as getting things out of the fridge and brushing teeth, but do not abuse it by lifting things that are clearly too heavy. Having ultrasound treatment in the office is a form of deep heat and can be very helpful for this condition.

Please phone the office if you have any questions. Thanks for reading.

Dr. Mckim


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