Anyone can get tennis elbow, even if you don’t play tennis. It describes pain or discomfort around the outside of the elbow as a result of over use of muscles in the forearm. This condition is called tennis elbow because it is common among tennis players, who often put the tendon leading to their elbow under repeated stress.
Similarly, pain on the inside of the elbow is often referred to as golfer’s elbow.
Tennis or golfer’s elbow generally occurs more in men than women. Even though these conditions are more prevalent among tennis players and golfers respectively, they can occur in anyone who undertakes work or leisure activities that involve repetitive use of the elbow, hand or wrist. For example, hairdressers, gardeners and heavy machinery operators are among people who may be impacted by tennis or golfer’s elbow.
Tennis elbow symptoms
Tennis elbow affects the muscles and tendons of your forearm that extend to your wrists and fingers. Symptoms may develop gradually, with mild pain that slowly worsens over time. It isn’t caused by an injury but by overuse of the tendons in your forearm. Symptoms include:
- an ache or pain that occurs after gripping or squeezing objects
- weak grip strength and a pain or burning sensation on the outer part of the elbow.
Golfers elbow symptoms
Golfer’s elbow impacts the forearm muscles that attach from the wrist to the “funny bone” area of the elbow near the inner bump. These muscles are used for wrist flexion (the twisting motion of the wrist), which explains its connection to golf. In this case symptoms include:
- pain or tenderness near the funny bone, or inner bump of the elbow, as well as reduced grip strength.
Easing tennis and golfer’s elbow
There are a number of stretches and exercises you can do to ease both tennis and golfer’s elbow:
For tennis elbow: Hold your arm out in front of you, palm facing down and gently pull your hand and fingers back towards you using your other hand. This shouldn’t be painful as it is intended to give a slight stretch to your forearm. Hold for 30 seconds, relax, and repeat three times.
For golfer’s elbow: This exercise is similar to the one for tennis elbow but in this case hold your arm out in front of you with the palm facing up. Gently pull your hand and fingers back towards your body using your other hand. Hold for 30 seconds, then relax. Repeat three times.
Wrist Extension: Begin with your elbow at a 90-degree angle, palm facing down, resting on a table’s surface. Gently extend your wrist to lift it off the table (this should not be painful). Repeat ten times. As you progress you can add weight, like holding a water bottle, to add resistance and incorporate strengthening into the exercise.
Wrist Flexion: This exercise is similar to the wrist exercise above, but the palm is in the other direction. For the wrist flexion exercise, begin with your elbow at a 90-degree angle, palm facing up, resting on a table’s surface. Gently extend your wrist to lift it off the table towards the ceiling (this should not be painful). Repeat ten times. You can also add weight resistance to add strength training to the exercise.
Grip Strengthening: For this exercise, all you need is a squishy ball or “stress ball.” Hold the ball in your hand and gently squeeze. Hold for five seconds, relax, and repeat ten times. This exercise is helpful for both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.
Strength Exercise: One of the common strengthening exercises you can do is informally called the “hammer exercise.” You will need a hammer as your weight resistance. Hold the handle of the hammer, and keep your elbow at 90 degrees, rested flat on a table’s surface. Slowly rotate the hammer towards the centre of your body, turning the direction of your palm downwards. Then slowly reverse the motion, rotating the hammer outwards—your palm begins facing up with the heavy side of the hammer pulling on your arm. Rest briefly. Repeat ten times.
In addition to these exercises you may benefit from a compression or stability elbow brace available from the chemist.
Sports chiropractic is highly effective at treating and quickly reducing the symptoms of both tennis and golf elbow. If you need assistance with tennis or golf elbow contact Lane Chiropractic on 6676 2270.