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Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow

Most people have heard of the common “Tennis Elbow” and “Golfer’s Elbow,” but any Joe Schmoe can get it (you don’t have to be a tennis player or golfer).  Tennis Elbow is inflammation of the tendon on the outer side of your elbow, and Golfer’s Elbow is inflammation of the tendon on the inner side of your elbow.  Along the back side of your forearm there are several long muscles that start at a common tendon, which initiates at a bump on the outer side of your elbow, called the Lateral Epicondyle.  Inflammation of this common tendon is medically called “Lateral Epicondylitis.”  The muscles in this part of the forearm run to the back side of your wrist and fingers in order to promote “extension” of the corresponding joints.  Along the inner side of the forearm there are other long muscles that control “flexion” of the wrist and fingers, and they join to form a common tendon that connects in to a bump on the inner part of the elbow, called the Medial Epicondyle.  Inflammation to this tendon is medically termed “Medial Epicondylitis.”

Both Lateral and Medial Epicondylitis occur when the tendons are overused.  The overuse creates microtrauma to the tissue and inflames it.  If it is not properly treated, the microtrauma can progress to larger tears, and possibly to a tendon rupture.  Also, the microtrauma is much more successful in treating during the initial stages and when it is mild, rather than waiting for it to become severe or chronic.

For Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis), common causes are performing activities that require you to rotate your forearms repetitively (ie, using a screw driver), having to press too hard with your finger or gripping too hard (ie, cleaning duties, holding heavy items for too long).

For Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis), common causes are having to extend your fingers or wrist too much (ie, typing, texting), or gripping to hard (when you grip something heavy, not only do you use the muscles that close your fingers, but you also use the muscles that extend your wrist).

When pain in the elbow first starts to become noticeable, you should consult with your medical doctor if anti-inflammatories are ok for you to take.  You should also ice the area and rest it from the activity that you believe to be causing the pain.  Secondly, it would be best to consult with a Physical Therapist, or someone who studies body mechanics, to better assess why and how you’ve been developing tendinitis so you can better treat it and prevent it from reoccurring.

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