Healthy elbow function is fundamental for use of the upper limb not only for sporting enthusiasts but for everyone performing activities of daily living. An elbow injury or persistent elbow pain can significantly influence a persons’ day-to-day; a tennis player unable to properly grip and swing a racquet, worker unable to perform their duties or someone at home unable to take care of themselves without experiencing pain.
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Upper Limb Pain in Tennis: 4 Factors You Don't Usually Consider!
The anatomy of the elbow involves the interplay of three bones; Humerus from the upper arm, then the Radius and Ulna from the forearm. Together forming three joints; the Ulna-humeral, the Proximal radio-ulnar and the Humero-radial. The ulna-humeral and the humero-radial joints allow for the bend and straighten of the elbow while the proximal radio-ulnar joint allows for pronation and supination of the forearm or turning the palm of the hand inward and outward.
There are a multitude of ligaments interacting on the joints however groupings of ligaments most often referred to are the Medial Collateral Ligament Complex; which helps to resist valgus forces at the inner aspect of the elbow, and the Lateral Collateral Ligament Complex; helping to resist the varus forces on the outer aspect of the elbow. These ligaments are often exposed to strong forces during sporting activities involving throwing or falling on an outstretched arm leading to possible sprains and tears.
A variety of movements are possible at the elbow and forearm, requiring a myriad of muscles for both strong, enduring and dextrous tasks. The biceps brachii and the triceps brachii muscles cross the elbow for strong bending and straightening of the elbow. Furthermore, two groups of muscles; firstly, the forearm flexor muscles come together forming the Common Flexor tendon on the inner aspect of the elbow, and secondly the forearm extensor muscles joining at the Common Extensor tendon, on the outer aspect of the elbow. These groups of muscles are heavily used for gripping tasks and either of the Common tendons often fall victim to overload and overuse that may lead to tendinopathy, strains and tears.
Some common acute or traumatic hip elbow may include:
- Radial head fracture
- Proximal Ulnar fracture
- Olecranon Fracture
- Coronoid fracture
- Posterior dislocation
- Stress fractures
- Hyperextension Injuries
- Medial Collateral ligament sprain / tear
- Triceps tendon tear
- Biceps tendon tear / rupture
- Common Forearm/Wrist extensor tear
- Common Forearm/wrist flexor tear
Some common atraumatic (non-traumatic) causes of elbow pain may include:
- Tennis Elbow
- Golfers Elbow
- Radio-humeral Bursitis
- Lateral Epicondylalgia
- Extensor tendinopathy
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Myofascial pain
- Cervical spine referral
- Ulnar nerve compression
- Posterior Interosseus Nerve entrapment (Radial Tunnel Syndrome)
- Median Nerve entrapment
- Posterior Impingement
- Triceps tendon Tendinopathy
- Olecranon Bursitis
- Joint Instability
- Posterolateral Rotary Instability
- Valgus Instability
What can I do about my elbow pain? Tips and general Information:
- If your elbow pain has recently increased, you can try using ice 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, doing this 3-4 times per day as needed
- Rest your elbow from overloading the painful structures by avoiding aggravating activities (these may include tight gripping tasks; tennis racquets, heavy lifting/carrying or using handheld tools that vibrate or requiring a turning motion)
- You can try gentle self-massage of the tender tissues, 5-10 minutes at a time as often as needed
- Beginning a daily routine of gentle muscle strengthening exercises will aid in improving your elbow health, decreasing pain and reducing the risk of reinjury
- Occasionally an elbow brace may be warranted, if you’re unsure of the correct option, see your local physio for advice and recommendations
How can a Brisbane physio help my elbow pain?
PhysioTec is your choice for physiotherapy for elbow pain in Brisbane. There are many potential options for management depending on your condition and your personal needs and goals. Physiotherapy for elbow pain at PhysioTec may include:
- A thorough patient interview and physical assessment
- An evaluation of possible underlying causes, particularly important for long standing or recurrent conditions
- Education and personalised advice about how to best manage your elbow condition and speed your recovery
- A tailored and progressive exercise program, including video-based exercises on a free App and/or colour photographs and typed text instructions
- Taping or bracing as required
- A gym program and a progressive return to sport plan as required
1. What is golfers elbow?
Golfers elbow refers to tendinopathy of the forearm flexor tendon characterized by pain or tenderness at or on the medial epicondyle on the inner aspect of the elbow. It is commonly seen in golfers, hence the name, but also seen in tennis players using heavy topspin. Often treated through alterations to swing technique and a targeted exercise program.
2. Can elbow pain affect my hand?
Due to the interplay of muscles, tendons and nerves from elbow to hand, there can be an effect on the hand from elbow pain. If you have elbow pain and the function of your hand is impaired, consulting your Physiotherapist or Doctor may help provide the best options for recovery.
3. What does tendinitis/tendinopathy feel like?
Tendinopathy or tendinitis is often described as aching, warming, burning, stinging, sharp when referring to type of pain. In many cases, tendinopathy related pain will increase upon start of activity, decrease during activity and return post activity, often greater than before.
Our Brisbane Physiotherapy Clinic, services areas including: Brisbane, Tarragindi, Mount Gravatt, Holland Park, Rocklea, Yeronga, Annerley, Camp Hill, Carindale, Coorparoo, Salisbury, Sunnybank, Greenslopes, Seven Hills, Acacia Ridge, Indooroopilly, Woolloongabba, etc.
Because of our expertise in hip conditions, dance injuries and performance, and hypermobility, we also have people visiting us from all over Queensland, Australia and even international visitors. We also have a telehealth service for remote patients.
23 Weller Rd, Tarragindi QLD 4121, Australia
📞 Ph (07) 3342 4284 Fax (07) 3342 4204
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