Elbow pain

Tennis elbow? Golfer’s elbow? And you don’t play either? It’s ok, elbow pain is common. Risk factors for injuries like tennis elbow include include smoking, obesity, being aged 45–54 and two or more hours of repetitive movement per day.

Book an osteo appointment to talk about your elbow pain

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Common elbow conditions
Introduction

Many injuries like tennis and golfer’s elbow are caused by overuse. Problems in other parts of your body, like weakness in the shoulder muscles or overdoing the same wrist and hand movements, may also play a part.

After listening to your health history and examining your elbow and surrounding areas, your osteopath will find out the likely cause/s and tailor treatment to your needs.

Depending on your condition, your osteo may use a range of treatments like massage, movement exercises, strength exercises and stretching. The aim is to reduce muscle tension around the elbow, wrist and forearm, and to relieve pain. Sometimes a brace or taping may be used. It’s all about your individual needs.

You may be taught some exercises to strengthen the muscles in your lower arm and other areas. You may get advice on small changes you can make to your daily routine to avoid making the symptoms worse. Sometimes your osteo will work on other areas of your body like your lower and upper arm, shoulder and upper back.

Patient resources

Your osteo will identify which exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles around your elbow, shoulder or lower arm.

If your work activities have contributed to your condition, try to avoid or modify work tasks that put too much pressure on the forearm muscles, fingers, wrists and forearms in repetitive work.  You should also rest regularly and consider your posture.

If you play sport make sure you:

  • Use correct technique and proper equipment
  • Always warm-up and cool down thoroughly
What the evidence says

Elbow clinical exercises, patient education and manual therapy may relieve pain for adults with tennis elbow. Strengthening and stretching exercises, manipulation and soft tissue massage have helped some patients (Sutton et al 2016).

Strength training decreases tendinosis symptoms. The short term pain reduction effect of cervical and thoracic spine manipulation may allow more vigorous stretching and strengthening  exercise, which may result in a better and faster recovery of the affected tendon.

References:

Sutton, D., et al ‘Multimodal care for the management of musculoskeletal disorders of the elbow, forearm, wrist and hand: a systematic review by the Ontario Protocol for Traffic Injury Management (OPTIMa) Collaboration’, Chiropractic & Manual Therapies (2016); 24:8

Hoogvliet P et al. 2013. Does effectiveness of exercise therapy and mobilisation techniques offer guidance for the treatment of lateral and medial epicondylitis? A systematic review. Br J Sports Med 2013 47: 1112-1119. DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2012-091990

Sources for this page:

1 RACGP. Physiotherapy for tennis elbow: https://www.racgp.org.au/clinical-resources/clinical-guidelines/handi/handi-interventions/procedures/physiotherapy-for-tennis-elbow

Better Health Channel https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/elbow-pain

Coombes B et al. 2015. Management of Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy: One Size Does Not Fit AllJournal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. Published Online: October 31, 2015 Volume45, Issue11

Amin NH, Kumar NS, Schickendantz MS. Medial epicondylitis: evaluation and management. JAAOS-Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 2015 Jun 1;23(6):348-55

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