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Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow/Golfer’s Elbow)

That is Tennis Elbow or Golfer’s Elbow?

Both Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow involve inflammation or soft tissue pain at the portions of the elbow where the muscles that flex or extend the wrist attach. The wrist extensors originate from the later elbow and irritation of this group of muscles is known as Lateral Epicondylitis, or Tennis Elbow. The wrist flexors originate from the medial elbow and irritation of this group of muscles is referred to as Medial Epicondylitis, or Golfer’s Elbow. Both problems cause discomfort at the elbow with general use of the hand or wrist. Most often, the problem arises from a combination of tightness of the affected muscle group and repetitive forceful contraction that causes microinjury at the site of attachment. The pain in most cases is from both the tissue injury and from the accompanying inflammatory response and occurs with gripping or twisting activities at the wrist. Over time, this evolves into a non-inflammatory problem with pain coming mostly from scar tissue that has been left behind at the tendon attachment site.

What leads to epicondylitis?

Repetitive activity is usually the culprit, most often from the use of tools such as hammers or screwdrivers. A sudden increase in the volume or intensity of activity is often noted. In the case of lateral epicondylitis, things that cause the wrist extensors to over-contract will also aggravate the problem, including grip sizes that are too large, improper technique, such as leading with the elbow during backhand strokes in tennis or overly forceful golf swings.

How is the problem treated?

Early on, when the problem is still inflammatory in nature, ice massage, anti-inflammatories and activity restriction will usually reduce pain and allow resumption of day-to-day function. Sometimes braces or straps are worn on the forearm in order to compress the muscle and reduce overall tension at the tendon attachment site. Addressing the problem at its source, however, requires specific exercises that stretch the affected muscle

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