So we’ve all heard of tennis elbow. Some may have also heard of the less common golfer’s elbow. But I can’t remember the last time I saw someone with epicondylitis, the real name for elbow pain, that was actually due to tennis or golf!
The majority of people we see with tennis elbow in our modern day and age have it derived from the use of technology. In fact our humble computer is right at the top of the list.
Lateral elbow pain is due to inflammation at the insertion of the wrist extensor muscles into the elbow. When these muscles are used beyond the point of fatigue, the insertion into the bone starts to swell to heal microscopic strains that occur.
These small strains result in changes in function that drive inflammation, fatigue and pain. So what causes this?
Our wrists and fingers are setup in a unique system. The muscles that bend our fingers actually come from the elbow. When they contract, they not only flex the fingers, but they also want to flex the wrist. To stop this action, the wrist extensors contract to stabilize the wrist whilst allowing the fingers to bend. This combination of fingers flexion and wrist stability is what gives us our grip strength.
If we grip items that are too small or are slippery, our hands grip the item very hard increasing tension on the wrist extensors. This is the common association that occurs with tennis players griping rackets that have handles that are too small or grips that are worn out.
The most common issue we see though is to do with computer use. When our wrists drop below the keyboard we need to contract our fingers using our finger and wrist extensors to keep the fingers off the keys. When this happens for prolonged periods the effect is the same.
Here’s our top tips for preventing elbow pain:
If you’re playing a sport or you are a tradie, check the grip size of your equipment. You should have 1 finger width between your fingers and your thumb when you hold it like a hammer
Make sure your wrists are above the keyboard with a wrist support
Keep your hands above the mouse again with a wrist support
Simple actions can have profound effects at preventing pain, but if you’re concerned, give us a call on 9318 7758 and we’ll help you out.