Elbow Pain

Understanding your pain

As with other specific conditions that can be addressed with manual therapy, it is important to first understand the history of your elbow pain before a diagnosis can be made. This involves asking you: to describe your symptoms; when and how your symptoms started; which activities provoke pain or dysfunction and so on.

This history guides me in making an appropriate physical examination of the joint and surrounding tissue including joints above and below especially shoulder, neck and thoracic spine. The examination might include observation in standing and on the treatment couch, palpation of the area as well as special tests of the joint.

The elbow is a complex joint with pronation and supination occurring there as well as flexion and extension. Pronation and supination describe the ability to rotate your forearm to rotate your wrist and hand through 180 degrees.

Common elbow problems I treat include:

  • Tennis elbow (tendinopathy just below the elbow joint on the thumb side)
  • Golfer’s elbow (tendinopathy just below the elbow joint on the little finger side)
  • Triceps tendinopathy
  • Nerve entrapment
  • Bursitis

Treatment consists of applying appropriate manual therapy techniques such as soft tissue massage, joint mobilisation and stretches to the appropriate tissue. Sometimes this means a focus on the area of pain and sometimes this means relieving surrounding tissue that may have become painful or restricted, either because of adaptations you have made to accommodate your elbow problem or issues that are affecting the elbow directly. Indeed, for many of the chronic elbow conditions listed above which develop over time there is often a relationship between your elbow pain and pain / dysfunction and the shoulder, thoracic spine or neck.

Tendinopathies such as tennis and golfer’s elbow respond well to regular loading for instance with light weights or resistance bands. During the treatment we can discuss if a graded exercise programme is appropriate for you and if so I can take you through the relevant exercises after the manual therapy treatment.