Do I have Golfer’s or Tennis Elbow?

Contrary to the name of these conditions, you do not have to be Tiger Woods or Roger Federer to have symptoms of Golfer’s elbow or Tennis Elbow. If you have elbow pain, it’s important to not just use Dr. Google and get a proper exam and diagnosis by a qualified healthcare provider. BUT, if you prefer to just use Dr. Google and hope a blog can help you take away your pain, this is for you.

What is Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow?

Lateral Epicondylopathy

Lateral Epicondylopathy, also known as Tennis elbow, is an acute irritation to the outside or lateral aspect of the elbow and forearm that causes pain. The extensor compartment of the forearm includes the brachioradialis, extensor carpi radialis longus and brevis, extensor digitorum, and extensor carpi ulnaris. These muscles take a beating with excessive gripping and pronation of the hand. If you are familiar with tennis, then you know this sounds exactly like hitting a tennis ball. More than half of tennis players will experience this at some point in their career; however, only a small percentage of people suffering from this condition play tennis. Construction workers, woodworkers, and really anybody that uses a screwdriver can experience this type of pain.

The important part about this is managing extreme increases in acute load (assuming it is Tennis Elbow). For example, if you haven’t played tennis in months a come back to play a full-weekend tournament, you may start to experience some lateral elbow pain. Reducing load is important, but so is starting to build back the capacity of the musculature. Getting a set of FlexEx hand bands off Amazon will absolutely help you keep this from happening again and help you rehab the injury. 

To self-manage, you can apply heat and self-myofascial release with a lacrosse ball to the affected area. Things that REALLY help include Shockwave, IASTM, manual therapy of the extensor compartment, dry needling, and quality rehab. All very effective in helping manage this. But again, the most important part is having the correct diagnosis. For example, other sources of pain in that region could be due to cervical disc issues resulting in radiculopathy of the radial nerve or radial nerve irritation. 

Medial Epicondylopathy

Medial Epicondylopathy, also known as Golfer's elbow is a similar condition where repetitive strain can cause pain and inflammation on the inside of the elbow. The flexor compartment is composed of several muscles including the pronator teres, flexor carpi ulnaris and radialias, and palmaris longus. Golfer’s elbow is caused by excessive stress to these tendons such as when hitting a golf ball, throwing, or anything that causes valgus stress to the elbow. Again, most of the people affected by this condition are not even athletes, let alone golfers; however, it is the most common cause of medial elbow pain.

Management is very similar to tennis elbow, however, you just apply the same concept to the flexor compartment of the forearm. It is also important to rule out UCL sprain, median nerve entrapment, or flexor strains. For treatment, using your golf club or baseball bat to provide resistance for resisted pronation and supination are huge for building the capacity of the flexor compartment to tolerate load again.

How Long Does It Take and When Can I Play Again?

The easy answer is, yes, it is extremely manageable. The hard answer is it depends on how much you pissed it off and how well you are at managing the symptoms and building your capacity. If you want to return back as fast as possible, here is what you would do.First, you would schedule with Strength & Spine Chiropractic and let us handle it and less than 3 visits. If not, then perform the following:

  • Reduce load for the time being by >50%
  • Perform self-myofascial release to the irritated area for approximately 2 minutes
  • Use heat, not ice
  • STRENGTHEN, not stretch the affected area using high-rep, low load exercises
  • Perform eccentric-focused exercises

The best part about all of this is that I niche in tennis players and golf athletes and would love to be a part of your healthcare team helping you perform your best and without pain.

Dr. Caleb Hebert DC

Strength & Spine Chiropractic

Dr. Caleb Hebert

Dr. Caleb Hebert

Doctor of Chiropractic

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