Previously this condition was thought to be due to a primary inflammation of the tendon arising from the lateral epicondyle, hence the name lateral epicondylitis. More recent evidence shows that while inflammation may be a factor, the source of this problem may be due to a variety of factors and the name is now more correctly termed lateral epicondilagia. It was an affliction common with tennis players, particularly in the era of wooden racquets. Lateral epicondylitis is felt over the outside (lateral) of the elbow, if the arm was by your side, with the palm facing forward.
It arises due to inflammation of the tendon attachment of those muscles that extend the wrist and fingers. It is caused by overuse, or repetitive actions such as gripping and lifting. It may be related to degenerative change of the tendons, or of the cartilage at the attachment of the tendon on the lateral epicondyle of the humerus. People who have lateral epicondylitis will typically experience pain when they grip or lift.
Physiotherapy is often used to treat this often stubborn condition using stretches, strengthening, bracing and other modalities
Correctly called “medial epicondylitis”, this condition is felt on the inside of the elbow, if the arm were by the side, with the palm facing forward.
It is an affliction common in golfers, felt in their dominant arm, especially when using the driver.
It is also experienced by non-golfers who do repetitive lifting, pushing or pulling.
Pain is felt over the inside of the elbow when gripping or lifting. Physiotherapy is often prescribed for this condition, which can be very stubborn to treat
Fractures of the elbow are common, especially those involving the head of the radius (upper forearm, outside) and the olecranon (the pointy part of the ulna bone at the back).
Physiotherapists may be asked by the treating GP or specialist to immobilise the elbow in a cast or sling, to allow the fracture to heal.
Elbow fractures are notoriously painful and result in very stiff joints following injury.
Physiotherapists are often asked to by the doctor to commence treatment very early after fracture, even before it has fully healed. This may help avoid long-term stiffness of the elbow.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and Occupational Over-use Syndrome (OOS)
Repetitive work activities or postures sometimes contribute to elbow pain. This is usually due to fatigue in the muscles around the elbow, or repeated minor strains of muscles and tendons, caused by some work duties.
These duties may be lifting and gripping, packing, picking from warehouse shelves or conveyer belts, prolonged typing and data entry.
RSI/OOS may also involve the shoulder, neck, wrist and hand. It is a condition that develops slowly and can be stubborn to treat. Physiotherapy can be helpful in managing this condition using stretches, bracing, strengthening and other methods.