A Chiropractor talking about elbows? Yup! It's a joint, so we know how to treat it!
Today I want to talk specifically about lateral elbow pain, that is, elbow pain on the outside of the arm.
If you have pain on the outside of your arm, around the elbow or even above or below, getting a proper diagnosis is the key first step to managing it. Whether you feel it all the time, or only with certain movements (Tennis anyone?) it is something we can help with!
The 3 top causes of lateral elbow pain are: lateral epicondylitis, epicondylosis and radial tunnel syndrome.
A proper history and exam can help us differentiate between these and other causes. Inflammation at the tendons of the elbow can be a major factor in the first two causes mentioned, where nerve entrapment is the main issues with radial tunnel syndrome.
Once we have a diagnosis, one of the things that can be done for elbow pain is identifying the activities that bring it on. For lateral elbow pain, this is typically movements that include repeated wrist extension, as well as supination and pronation of the forearm. Careers like carpentry, bricklaying, tailoring, musicians as well as jobs with prolonged desk work are examples. Raquet sports is another factor contributing to this pain, which is why lateral elbow pain can also be called tennis elbow!
With these types of diagnosis's, conservative care is the best option. Don't just wait and see what happens and if the pain goes away. Studies show that reaching out and getting care significantly improves outcomes.
A word of caution, steroid injections are a common recommendation for lateral elbow pain, however it can be hard to differentiate between true tendon inflammation vs degeneration, and we are starting to see evidence that shows repeated use of these types of injections can actually speed degeneration of tissue, so make sure to ask questions and discuss with your provider your options.