There are two types of elbow tendonitis: tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis and golfer’s elbow or medial epicondylitis. They are both injuries to the tendons, but they differ because of the location of pain and inflammation in the elbow. Both of them will be furthered discussed as we go on, but basically, pain on the outside means tennis elbow while pain on the inside elbow means golfers. You do not necessarily have to be a golfer or a tennis player to develop these injuries. Doing something repetitive that puts strain on your tendons is enough for you to acquire these injuries. Among the two, golfer’s elbow is less common. It is also not as well-known as tennis elbow.
Medial epicondylitis or golfer’s elbow causes pain and inflammation in the tendons that connect the forearm to the elbow. There is a bony bump on the inside of your elbow and this is where the pain centers. The pain may also radiate into the forearm. Someone with golfer’s elbow usually experiences pain when they bend their wrist toward their forearm.
There are muscles in your forearm that allow you to grip something, rotate your arm, and flex your wrist. When you overuse them, golfer’s elbow develops. Repeated actions such as flexing, swinging, or gripping can result to tiny tears in the tendons.
Despite the name, golfers are not the only ones affected by this condition. Other athletes from sports like tennis, bowling, and baseball can also be affected. Though they sometimes call it as pitcher’s elbow. Again, any repetitive motions in the hand, wrist, or forearm can result into golfer’s elbow. Moreover, people who are always using tools such as screwdrivers, hammers, and rakes may develop this. Even painters are susceptible to this.
Symptoms can develop either slowly or suddenly. When the condition is caused by overuse, symptoms is likely to develop slowly. However, if it is caused by an accident or injury, symptoms tend to develop suddenly.
Symptoms can either be mild or severe and these includes pain when flexing the wrist toward the forearm, pain that extends from the inside of the elbow through the wrist to the pinky, and pain when shaking hands. In addition, a person suffering from golfer’s elbow may also have a weak grip, difficulty moving the elbow, a stiff elbow, and a weakened wrist. Lastly, they may also experience a tingling sensation extending from the elbow to the ring and pinky fingers.
Exercises For Golfer’s Elbow
By exercising and stretching the muscles in the arms, you can help heal your golfer’s elbow injury. You might also want to ask an advice from a doctor before starting an exercise. They might just have a more personalized suggestion.
1. Grip strengthening
Get a soft rubber ball or stress reliever. Place the ball in the palm of the hand affected by golfer’s elbow. Make a fist around it, squeeze, then release. The repetition of squeezing and releasing will strengthen the forearm. Hold the squeeze for 5 seconds. Do 2 sets of 15.
2. Forearm pronation and supination
For this exercise, bend the elbow of your injured arm 90 degrees. Be sure to keep your elbow at your side. Next, turn your palm up and hold for 5 seconds. Then, slowly turn your palm down. Hold this position again for 5 seconds. Keep in mind to keep your elbow at your side and bent 90 degrees while you do this exercise. It is suggested to do 2 sets of 15.
3. Resisted elbow flexion and extension
Get a can of soup and hold it with your palm up. Next, slowly bend your elbow so that your hand is coming toward your shoulder. Lower it slowly so your arm is completely straight. Do 2 sets of 15 while slowly increasing the weight you are using.
4. Finger extensions
Squeeze all five fingertips together of the affected hand. Then, stretch a rubber band around them. Next, as far as the rubber band will allow, extend your fingers away from each other. Hold for 5 seconds then repeat. Do 2 sets of 15.
5. Wrist stretch
Press the back of the injured hand using your other hand to help bend your wrist. Hold this for 15 to 30 seconds. Then, stretch the hand back by pressing the fingers in a backward direction. Again, hold this for 15 to 30 seconds. Make sure that you keep the arm on your injured side straight during this exercise. Do 3 sets.
Clinically known as lateral epicondylitis, it is a condition that causes pain around the outside of the elbow. It affects the tendons attached to the outer side of your elbow. These tendons are connected with the muscles that extend your wrist backward and straighten your fingers. This usually occurs after overuse of the tendons and muscles in the forearm near the elbow joint. The elbow joint is surrounded by muscles that move your elbow, wrist and fingers.
Overusing the muscles and tendons attached to your elbow will result to them being strained. As a result, tiny tears and inflammation can develop near the bony lump, called lateral epicondyle, on the outside of your elbow.
Yes, it is true that tennis elbow is sometimes caused by playing tennis. However, just like how golfer’s elbow is not exclusively caused by playing golf, tennis elbow can also be caused by other activities. Any activities that put repeated stress on the elbow joint can cause this injury, for example gardening, plumbing, and swimming. Additional examples include cutting tough food, playing the violin, and even using scissors. Any sporting activities that involve lots of throwing, such as javelin or discus, can also lead to tennis elbow.
Someone who has tennis elbow may notice pain on the outside of their upper forearm, just below the bend of their elbow. They may also experience pain when gripping small objects, such as a pencil or pen. In addition, they also find it painful to lift or bend their arm. Pain when twisting their forearm, such as turning a door handle or opening a jar, may also be experienced. Even fully extending their arm may also be difficult for them to do.
Exercises for Tennis Elbow
Again, it is best to consult a doctor before starting an exercise program. Keep in mind also that you should not begin doing activities until inflammation has subsided. Doing so might just aggravate the condition. If pain persists even after exercising for a while, see a doctor
Exercise and stretch your muscles to recover from tennis elbow injury. Try the following exercises below.
1. Fist clench
Since, poor grip strength is a common symptom of tennis elbow, it is just right to work on it. This exercise is meant to use the long flexor tendons of the fingers and thumb. For this exercise, you will need a table and a towel. First, sit at a table with your forearm resting on the table. Next, hold a rolled up towel or small ball in your hand. Then, squeeze the towel in your hand and hold for 10 seconds. Release and repeat nine more times.
2. Towel twist
The muscles that are focused for this exercise are wrist extensors and wrist flexors. First, get a hand towel. Sit in a chair and hold the towel with one hand at each end. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Twist the towel with both hands in opposite directions as if wringing out water. Repeat this nine more times. Do another 10 in the reverse direction.
3. Supination with a dumbbell
The focus for this exercise is the supinator muscle, a large muscle of the forearm that attaches into the elbow. This muscle is responsible for moving the palm upward. For this exercise, you will need a table and a 2-pound dumbbell. Sit in a chair and hold the dumbbell vertically in your hand, making sure that your elbow rests on your knee. Allow the weight of the dumbbell rotate the arm outward, turning the palm up. Then, rotate the hand back the other direction until your palm is facing downward. Repeat this 20 times on each side. Isolate the movement to your lower arm by keeping your upper arm and elbow still.
4. Elbow bend
To perform the elbow bend, stand straight. Then, lower the affected arm to one side. Next, slowly bend the arm upwards until the hand touches your shoulder. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Then, repeat nine more times.
5. Wrist flexor stretch
To do this, hold your arm straight out making sure that your elbow isn’t bent and that your palm faces up. Next, use your other hand to hold the fingers of your outstretched hand and bend them back toward your body until you can feel it in your inner forearm. Hold this for 15 seconds. Repeat three to five times. Do this two or three times a day. You may hold it for up to 30 seconds. You may also increase the number of repetitions up to 10 times.