DR. WINCHELL EXPLAINS ELBOW CONDITIONS
Conditions That May Be Causing Your Elbow Pain
Elbow pain is one of those things that can make everything difficult. Not only does it keep you from sports and workouts, but makes working and daily life more challenging and aggravating. Yet unfortunately, too many people are living with chronic elbow pain unnecessarily.
Common treatment for elbow pain often starts with pain and anti-inflammatory medication. Sometimes physical therapy will also be recommended. The problem is that these treatments don't fix the underlying problem so the condition continues to worsen. Months or years later, surgery may be recommended. However, surgery is often found not fix the problem either.
Elbow pain is frequently a condition that is not limited to your elbow joint itself. Surgery at the site of the elbow pain won't fix the overall mechanical problem. Think about the structure of an elbow and how it works. It takes your muscles and ligaments to make your elbow bend. These parts are all interconnected and work together. Every part that is involved needs to be considered a potential culprit to the cause of your elbow problems.
A cause of elbow pain we see routinely that is missed by traditional doctors is a pinched nerve in the neck. All nerves originate in your spine. The nerves running through your arm and elbow start in the neck portion of your spine (called the cervical spine). When the joints in your neck are out of their proper position, they can easily put pressure on the nerves that exit the joint. When this happens, the entire length of the nerve can become irritated and inflamed, causing pain at any point along the length of the nerve. Doctors of Chiropractic are specifically trained to identify pinched nerves and gently realign the joint to relieve the nerve and allow it to heal.
We evaluate elbow pain all the time in our office. In fact, many of our patients are athletes who are susceptible to elbow disorders, like golfers, tennis players, football players, and hockey players. We also treat a lot of patients with elbow pain caused by work, especially jobs that require a lot of computer keyboard use, or from hobbies that require repetitive motions. And then there are the patients we treat that experience elbow pain that is not an elbow problem at all, they actually have a neck problem. Once we treat their neck, their elbow problem resolves.
Common Causes of Elbow Pain
- Repetitive use of tendons and joints day after day, without enough time in between for repair, can lead to strains, tears, and inflammation because their tissues develop micro-tears over time.
- Other over use causes of elbow pain may originate in other areas of your arm, such as your wrists, from typing on a keyboard, playing an instrument, or knitting.
- A nerve impingement, or “pinched nerve,” in your neck that causes pain that is referred down the nerve and felt in your elbow.
Repetitive Use Elbow Conditions That Cause Pain
- Tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow
- Posterior impingement syndrome
- Little league elbow
- Olecranon Bursitis
Tennis Elbow or Golfer’s Elbow
What is Tennis Elbow or Golfer’s Elbow?
Pain from tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow is due in inflammation of the tendon that attaches to the elbow and is part of the muscle that bends the wrist.
You don’t have to be a tennis player or golfer to suffer from either of these conditions. In fact, only 5% of tennis elbow conditions are a result of playing tennis.
Treatment recommendations for tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are the same, as the conditions are essentially the same. The main difference is that in tennis elbow, the damaged tendons attach to the outside of your elbow and are mostly used when extending your wrists back. In golfer’s elbow, the damaged tendons connects to the side of your elbow closest to your body and mostly used when flexing your wrists forward.
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow
- Wrist weakness
- Tenderness over the outside of the elbow (Tennis Elbow)
- Tenderness over the inside of the elbow (Golfer’s Elbow)
- Difficulty extending the forearm
- Pain with gripping, lifting and carrying
- Prolonged pain and discomfort may continue for as little as 3 weeks or as long as several years.
Do I Need Surgery for Tennis Elbow or Golfer’s Elbow?
Surgery for tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow is usually unnecessary because the tendon should be able to heal with non-surgical chiropractic treatment.
Some doctors recommend surgery that involves cutting the tendon and removing the inflamed tissue. Recovery can take up to 6 months and is too often not successful. There have been no studies that show surgery is better that natural non-invasive treatment, such as cold laser therapy, physical therapy, and rest.
Posterior Impingement Syndrome
Posterior elbow impingement is caused by repeated over extension or the arm, especially when the motion is forced. The injury begins with the forced extension causes one bone to jam into another. This causes inflammation of the joint lining. If left untreated, it may progress to pain in the cartilage and bone as well.
Symptoms of posterior impingement syndrome include:
- Pain usually is gradual and worsens over time with continued use and aggravation.
- Tenderness or pain in the back of your elbow, especially when trying to throw or straighten your arm.
- You may have swelling and stiffness, with difficulty straightening your arm
Athletes prone to posterior impingement syndrome include:
- Racket sport players
- Martial artists
- Baseball players
Little League Elbow
Little league elbow is an overuse injury caused by repeated throwing, especially common in pitchers, during the puberty age of approximately 9 to 16. The ligament that attaches to the inside of the elbow starts to pull on one of the growth plates, pulling it away from the bone. A growth plate is the location muscles attach to bone that have the job of flexing and rotating the arm with the palm down. When pulled away, it becomes weak and injury prone, and may cause disruption of bone growth. With overuse, tissue breaks down too fast for the body to be able to repair it.
Symptoms of little league elbow include:
- Pain around the bony know on the inside of the elbow
- Pain when throwing overhead
- Redness or warmth
Bursae are gel-like sacs that act as your joint’s shock absorbers at the tip of the elbow.. But can become injured, irritated, or inflamed.
Causes of elbow bursitis include:
- Pressure for long periods of time, like leaning on your elbow at a desk
- Traumatic injury
- Gout and rheumatoid arthritis
Symptoms of elbow bursitis include:
- Inflammation, though it may be hard to detect visually
- Difficulty moving the elbow, pain near the tip of the elbow
Elbow Pain Prevention
Treating your symptoms will give you relief and solve the immediate problem, but prevention for future irritation needs to be addressed as well. Proper ergonomics, stretching exercise, and techniques for increasing circulation are important. Taking frequent breaks, and finding equipment that is more ergonomic are very helpful for prevention. For example, a hammer or tennis racquet with a softer grip will absorb some of the impact on your wrist.
Natural Non-Surgical, Non-Drug Treatment for Elbow Pain
Chiropractic treatment for elbow pain with Dr. Winchell is a non-surgical, non-drug therapy that corrects the root cause of most elbow pain with safe, gentle, natural treatment that lasts long-term. If your are experiencing nerve impingement from misaligned joints, Dr. Winchell will realign your joints that are impinging nerves and causing pain and damage in the surrounding area, as well as the affected areas along the length of the impinged nerve. For soft tissue injury, Dr. Winchell will use Erchonia Cold Laser Therapy to increase blood supply to the injured area, simulate nerve function, help generate new and healthy cells and tissue, reduce inflammation, and promote faster healing.
Make an appointment for a complimentary consultation and exam to find out the cause of your elbow pain and how you may be relieved of your condition by treating the root of your condition with no drugs or surgery, for a fast and lasting solution.