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Elbow Pain

How common is elbow pain?

Other than traumatic injuries, the most common cause of elbow pain is due to chronic repetitive strain injury (RSI) of the tendons and muscles of the forearm. For example, tennis elbow, which is pain on the outside or lateral aspect of the elbow joint, affects about 1 to 2% of the population (Verhaar,1994). Golfer’s elbow, which is pain on the inside or medial aspect of the elbow joint, affects less than 1% of the population.

What causes Tennis or Golfer's elbow?

Tennis and golfer’s elbow are both caused by excessive strain on the soft tissue surrounding the elbow joint, which leads to inflammation. While both conditions are commonly associated with the respective sports, anyone who exerts repetitive workload on their elbow joint (such as typing, using the mouse) is susceptible to these conditions. Ergonomic set up of workspace is important in preventing RSI of the elbow.

How can elbow pain be prevented?

Here are several tips that will help prevent tennis or golfers’ elbow:

  1. Do warm-up stretches before exercise. Soft tissues will become more elastic with increased body temperature, which makes them less prone to injury.
  2. Practice proper playing techniques, especially racquet sports like tennis and golf. Strengthen the wrist flexors and extensors using weights or other resistive devices.
  3. Use an elbow support while playing sports to reduce strain to the elbow joint.
  4. If pain occurs, apply ice (ten minutes on, then ten minutes off) for four rounds.
  5. Rest from the sport and get proper treatments.

What is the chiropractic treatment approach for elbow pain?

  1. Reduce Pain - The goal of treatment initially would be to reduce the pain, or to “break the pain cycle”. As the pain level is reduced, the muscles will relax, reversing the pain cycle. Certain modalities, such as dry-needling and ultrasound therapy, may be employed to provide pain relief and reduce inflammation.
  2. Restore normal joint mechanics - Depending on the examination findings, your chiropractor will adjust (manipulate) the joints that are misaligned. Soft tissue healing can also be enhanced by performing Shockwave Therapy.
  3. Improve flexibility and strength – To prevent future injuries, it is important to improve the flexibility of the joints. Your chiropractor will advise you on appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises according to your physical needs and fitness level.
  4. Lifestyle adjustments – Exercises, ergonomic working posture, etc. play a vital role in the development and otherwise prevention of elbow pain. Your doctor will work with you to identify lifestyle adjustments that will help you maximize the quality of your health.

What are the Recommended Treatments for Elbow Pain?*

Author: Dr Claudia Ng, BSc, DC

* A proper diagnosis has to be obtained for all of the above conditions before an appropriate combination of treatments will be provided. This is just a list of possible treatments for the individual condition but not all of them may be necessary, nor is it limited to those listed only.

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