Two common elbow complaints are Tennis elbow (extensor tendinopathy) and Golfer’s elbow (flexor tendinopathy). Although common in tennis players and golfers, they regularly occur from activities unrelated to either sport and are typically labelled ‘overuse’ injuries.
Golfer’s Elbow (flexor tendinopathy) presents as pain on the inside of the elbow, and caused by overuse of the forearm muscles involved in gripping, flexing the wrist and flexing the elbow – similar to a golf swing.
Tennis Elbow (extensor tendinopathy) is pain on the outside of the elbow joint, and caused by overuse of the forearm muscles involved in gripping, extending the wrist and extending the elbow – similar to the backhand motion in tennis.
Most tendinopathies are caused by an overload to the tendons and the inability of the body to heal the tendon fast enough for it to recover before it is loaded again. With repetitive stress the tendon which attaches the muscles to the bone becomes damaged and develops micro-tears. This results in pain and weakness. Activities such as tennis, golf, repetitive lifting, carrying, computer use, or playing musical instruments will usually contribute to the cause
Treatment involves manual therapy to help offload the tendon, specific strengthening exercises and an analysis of the neck and shoulder to address any postural issues that may be contributing to the pain. An analysis of technique of lifting, carrying etc may also be required. Elbow braces may also be of benefit to help relieve pain in the short term but will not improve the long term outcome.
For more on the elbow, or If you are seeking help and want relief from elbow pain