It might start with a reach, or it could strike as you’re taking a sip from your coffee mug. Elbow pain is tough to live with because of how integral the joint is in our daily lives.
Your elbow is a complex junction of bones and tendons that sees lots of use, and as you age it’s more likely to give you trouble if you don’t take care of it.
Similar to other joints like your hips and knees, pain in the elbow can be caused by the usual suspects: tendonitis, bursitis, and arthritis. There are a couple of specific conditions that result in elbow pain, and they can affect the rest of your arm if left untreated. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the causes and symptoms of tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow so you can know what you might be dealing with.
The Damaging Duo: Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow
The technical name for tennis elbow is lateral epicondulitis. Despite what the common name suggests, most of the people who suffer from tennis elbow don’t play racket sports. However, the types of arm motions made by tennis players, especially the backhand swing, are the same kinds of repetitive motions that can cause a person to develop this condition.
Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain that starts from the outside of your elbow and radiates down your forearm. You might find it hard to shakes hands, turn a doorknob, use a screwdriver, or hold a beverage.
Through repeated actions that force you to twist, straighten, or raise your forearm, the tendons that connect your forearm to the outside of your elbow can become strained or torn. Without treatment, tennis elbow might turn into chronic pain, so it’s important to diagnose this condition and wait for your arm to fully recover before returning to normal use.
If normal treatment for elbow pain such as rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers don’t take care of the issue, you should consider seeing a doctor.
Medial epicondulitis, or golfer’s elbow, is similar to tennis elbow in that it can affect anyone. Symptoms include pain on the inside of your elbow that can extend down your forearm. You might also experience stiffness in your elbow, weakness in your hand, and a numbness or tingling sensation in your fingers. The kinds of actions that hurt someone with tennis elbow will also present difficulty to people with golfer’s elbow, and you might also find it difficult to flex your wrist or squeeze something with your hand.
This pain comes from small tears in the tendons that and muscles that control your hands and fingers. Repetitive motions or actions that overstress your hands can cause golfer’s elbow, so avoiding the condition requires knowing your limits, as well as taking the time to warm up prior to exercise or work.
Once again, you can self-treat pain on the inside of your elbow with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers, but make sure your pain is gone before you use your arm again. If that doesn’t work, ask a doctor. You don’t want to let it develop into something you’ll be dealing with for the rest of your life.