What are the parts of the elbow?
The elbow joint is formed by three bones: the humerus (upper arm), the radius and the ulna (forearm) that converge to form a hinge joint also called a synovial joint. The elbow joint performs two motions, extension (straightening of the arm) and flexion (curling of the arm). Muscles in the arm are connected by tendons that attach to the bone to produce the power to move in either direction of movement. The bones of the arm are connected by ligaments that provide stability.
The entire joint is encapsulated by a fibrous membrane that contains synovial fluid to provide lubrication and further stability of the joint. Bursa sacs of thick fluid are located within the joint to provide padding between the bones.
What is tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow?
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) are painful conditions that occur when tendons in your elbow are overloaded, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. Did you know that you can still get tennis elbow even if you’ve never played tennis? In principle, tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow can stem from any activity in which the hand has to grip permanently with the elbow bent. These movements can overload the extensor tendons at the elbow. This then results in inflammation and pain.
These days, tennis and golfer’s elbow also occur in people who often sit in front of a computer and work with a mouse. When playing actual tennis or golf, it usually affects players with bad technique or athletes who simply try too hard. It also affects those whose jobs feature the types of motions that can lead to tennis elbow including plumbers, painters, landscapers, carpenters, and butchers.
Signs and symptoms of epicondylitis
The pain of tennis elbow occurs primarily where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow (lateral epicondyle). Pain can also spread into your forearm and wrist. In general, the affected elbow only hurts when it is moved, for example, when gripping and lifting. The strength in the hand and fingers can decrease and it becomes more difficult to carry heavy objects. The muscles in the forearm are often very tense. A ‘pins and needles’ sensation may develop in parallel. A doctor can make their diagnosis in a simple physical examination. During the exam, the patient is asked to extend his/her wrist and to turn the arm at the elbow against resistance. If the pain worsens, this is a sign of tennis elbow.
How to prevent tennis elbow?
Avoid typical incorrect use:
- Use the right techniques when playing tennis and, if necessary, invest in a few coaching sessions.
- In an office environment, cushioned mouse pads and ergonomically designed mice help the wrist. It might also help to learn the shortcuts that can be entered using the keyboard.
- Buy a powered screwdriver if you often assemble new furniture.
- Lift objects up in such a way that the palms of the hand face your body.
- And last but not least: watch out for signs of overwork and take a break when needed.
How to treat tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow can usually be healed without surgery. A cognizant change or adjusted technique in the familiar sequences of movements at work and in sports to avoid one-sided stresses and strains. A wide range of add-on treatment approaches can help relieve the symptoms including anti-inflammatory medications and use of direct pressure through supports and bracing.
Many doctors initially recommend elbow supports such as Epicomed® from medi® for the irritated tendons. The compressive knit of these supports reduces pressure and supports the affected forearm musculature. This relieves tension on the tendons. Today, these devices are small and light and can be worn during the day under clothing without any problem. They contribute to the treatment of tennis elbow and are thus perfect allies for all epicondylitis patients.
What is elbow bursitis?
Elbow bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa sac (olecranon) located at the tip of the elbow creating pain and discomfort. This can be caused by a traumatic event, prolonged pressure of the elbow on a hard surface, or by an infection from a prior injury.
The treatment for elbow bursitis can be treated non-surgically with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. Depending on the severity, the area may be aspirated to remove excess fluid if needed. The use of elbow supports or pads can be used to treat the symptoms of elbow bursitis.