Are you experiencing elbow pain but you can’t seem to find the source of the problem?
Often referred to as the “funny bone,” your elbow is a very sensitive place with many nerves running through the area. When you bump the ulnar nerve, you end up with that “funny” feeling that goes away shortly after. When you have pain in the area, it’s sometimes referred to as “tennis elbow” or “golfer’s elbow”; but, what are these different elbow injuries and why does the area get injured easily? Read on to better understand your elbow pain and what’s causing it.
Different forms of elbow pain
If you’ve ever experienced elbow pain, you know how frustrating it can be and how helpless you feel in trying to treat it. It can also debilitate you in other activities, from picking up a glass of water to driving your car. It’s an area that we overuse but we also can’t go without using.
If you work in a profession or have a hobby that involves repetitive gripping or sitting at a desk and typing all day, you might have a higher chance of developing elbow problems over time. Left untreated, these issues can get very serious.
Elbow pain can range from the inner side to the outer side, depending on the injury. Pain at the medial area of the elbow, or the inside part, is referred to as golfer’s elbow, and can happen when there is repeatable or excess stress to the area, especially when you make forceful finger and wrist motions. On the other hand, tennis elbow refers to the outside or lateral epicondylitis, where the muscles of your forearm in which you use to extend the fingers and wrist, are the most affected.
Your elbow pain could also be a result of a simple sprain or strain to the area, a fracture if you’ve broken a bone, or a dislocation. If it’s something that has been developing over time, it could be related to a more chronic type of condition such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, or bursitis.
Why do we injure the elbow easily?
Simply put, we tend to injure the elbow because it’s used so often throughout the day. You can’t pick up your coffee or get dressed for the day without using it. When you become athletic, you begin to use the elbow more frequently and can result in overuse or using incorrectly.
You can sometimes treat the pain symptoms at home if it’s inflammation resulting from a long day of usage, but in most cases it’s best to see a professional. Even without sports in your life, you may be overusing your elbow at your office or gripping something often whether it’s a bar at the gym or golf clubs.
Treating elbow injuries
While a minor discomfort can be treated at home with rest and an ice pack, untreated elbow injuries are serious. They need to be treated properly from the start because they will get worse if left alone. Regardless of where the injury is, you’ll end up with either weak extensors on the lateral side, or flexors that are too tight on the medial side. Seeing us right away is step one to avoid loss of function or activity level.
You’ll be able to diagnose the root of the problem and start correcting the issue with adjustments and therapeutic stretches. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary but an early diagnosis can prevent you from losing function or the issue exacerbating. If you’re experiencing numbness or shooting pain from in the elbow, arm, or hands, it’s a smart idea to meet with health specialist like a chiropractor to figure out what’s causing your elbow pain in order to avoid a more serious injury or a chronic condition from forming.