Aches and pains are a common problem in life, regardless of our activity level. In fact, most of us can point out something that is bothering us right this very second. Pain caused by repetitive stress is more common than that caused by a traumatic injury. Repetitive stress can occur in a lot of places on the body. Because we use our hands a lot during the day, especially in our work lives, it can cause discomfort in the elbow. Whether you have a desk job in an office, or if you’re an electrician, or a hair stylist. Our hands are very important and are essential to completing every day tasks.
Most of the muscles in our wrist, fingers, and forearm originate on the lateral aspect of our elbow. The everyday trials of life can often cause overuse of these muscles, causing us to feel pain. This is called Lateral Epicondylitis, but the more common term is “Tennis Elbow”. Tendons are at the ends of our muscles, attaching them to the bone. Despite the name, you don’t have to be a tennis player to have this problem. Anybody who uses their arms, especially their dominant arm, can be at risk. This condition usually causes pain when you grip or carry items, or rotate your wrist and forearm. Because this is typically an overuse injury, these muscles can weaken, which causes pain and makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks.
One of the problems with this type of injury is that people tend to just grin and bear it until they can’t stand it anymore. Rather than seeking treatment, they reduce the pain with Advil. This is not a bad idea, but there are many additional ways to address the issue. Modalities like ice are good to reduce pain due to the anti-inflammatory properties they provide. Braces called Chopat Straps help to reduce daily pain with activity. Correct application of stretching is extremely helpful. To improve strength in the elbow, exercises can be performed. Posture and correct form are also very important. Another thing that can be extremely helpful is a treatment called ASTYM. This treatment is performed by a skilled physical therapist to help heal and remodel the soft tissue.
Regardless of what the underlying specific causes are, I recommend talking to a physical therapist. They can evaluate your symptoms and help you address them by setting up a plan of care that is specific to your injury. If you would like additional information, we would love to assist you and get you feeling better!
Post written by: Rod Walker, DPT