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Who hasn’t had tennis elbow (rather than who has)?

There seems to be a tendency in the upper limbs to ignore pain for longer than the lower limbs, maybe this is because we can simply use the other arm but it would be inconvenient to hop everywhere.

This time we move down from the shoulder to the elbow.  The incidence of elbow pain is very high but it seems to need to reach a tipping point before help is sought.  Often when assessing elbows we hear things such as, ‘ah but it has always been like that since I had that bike accident’ or ‘yeah my elbows have always been a bit creaky’.  Often it is possible to offload by using the other arm for a while and this gives enough respite for the pain to subside but does nothing to treat the underlying problem. Often people are surprised during assessment at just how much function they have lost.

By far the most common elbow pain is in the lateral elbow (generally known as tennis elbow) and is often complicated by previous trauma (bangs, knocks and breaks).  Lateral (outside) pain occurs at a ratio of about 7:1 with medial (inside) elbow pain. It is generally easy to treat but often takes a surprising amount of time.  This is partially due to the fact that the arm has to remain in use while recovering but mainly due to the complexity of the elbow joint and its role in allowing strength and dexterity to be expressed by the hand.

Neil elbow

Something that is often overlooked is that problems at the elbow can cause issues with the hand. This could be short term pain or loss of strength or long term nerve problems.  Because these problems gradually get worse they are often ignored until they become a real functional problem

There are slight anatomical variances in the human body and some peoples nerves are routed slightly differently, which can also cause problems.  Not all elbow problems are associated with overuse injuries such as golfers or tennis.

The wait and see approach is not very effective in the treatment of elbow pain and usually just means the problem is going to come back and be worse each time.  There are many devices and splints on the market which have a varying level of success but they are generally just pushing the problem into the future.  Sometimes elbow pain is a consequence of something really obvious such as sanding all the floors in the house.  It might be as simple as a little bit of rest and the problem goes away – but has it really gone away rather than lying dormant until the next diy project.  If you are suffering with elbow or hand pain then come and see us, we can help. Call us on 656340 or click on the book now button in the website to book in online.


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