Tennis/golfer’s elbow also known as elbow tendonitis. This condition is typically not felt in the early stages. What happens in the early stages is we do a lot of work with our hands and fingers.
What’s a lot of work?
Lots of work, usually done on the computer, using digital devices, knitting, pottery making etc. the type of work where hands and fingers do most of it.
The amount of work gets muscles of the forearm tired, but before these muscles can be properly rested, more work, soon after, is done. The amount of work done is too much for the muscles to properly rest. So slowly these forearm muscles start getting inflamed. Once inflammation sets in we begin to compensate the way we use the arm. As these muscles get tired and sore we start using larger muscles, higher up the arm, first being the bicep.
The bicep develops soreness on the side closer to the body. Next group of muscles that we compensate to is trapezius and infraspinatous. Both of these are going to cause shoulder pain.
So how long does this process take?
How long before you develop a sore elbow?
For majority of people, it takes years! There is sometimes an event which speeds it up. With golfers, it’s typically hitting the ground with a club, which introduces a shock up the forearm which can precipitate the pain.
Most of the time, we get used to certain amount of pain in our arms, shoulders and neck and we chalk it up to any number of excuses, such as age, out of shape, getting older, lifting heavy, straining the arm etc. We then just suffer with it. We learn how to ‘take it easy’.
I feel this happens because the problem comes on rather slowly. When this happens, it’s difficult for most people to be aware of it. So we just, mainly, suffer with it. So therefore if your shoulder feels tight or is sore or you have tired arms or getting headaches ‘on-off’ you may have a problem with tennis/golfers elbow.
Who is affected?
It used to be that tennis and golf players were mostly affected. Then technology of racquets and golf clubs changed. While tennis players and golfers still get elbow tendonitis, they do so due to improper stroke more so then the equipment!
Also, with the computers becoming part of our lives a new group of patients were added to this elbow tendonitis group. Now the problem has spread to children and women. Children get it from using computer keyboards and joysticks etc.
Close to 70% of everyone who has tennis elbow problems will only experience shoulder pain and headaches. Fortunately we compensate so predictably! If a patient complains of shoulder pain or headaches, a specific exam of trapezius and infraspinatous as well as the rest of the arm will reveal the real problem.