Two common causes of elbow pain are Golfer’s Elbow and Tennis Elbow. These conditions are caused by tendonitis pain at the inside or outside of the elbow, respectively. Golfer’s Elbow and Tennis Elbow are common terms for medial epicondylitis and lateral epicondylitis. While these problems can be caused by golf and tennis, any repetitive activity can create these conditions.
Epicondylitis means tendonitis at the bony bump on the inside or outside of the bone where the respective tendons attach. The tendons that attach on the inside of the elbow are the wrist and finger flexor muscles (the ones you grip with) and the wrist extensor muscles (the tendons that attach on the outside of the tendon and that allow you to tilt your wrist backwards).
Inflammation of a tendon (tendinitis) and breaking down of the tendon (tendinosis) are two common causes of both Golfer’s Elbow and Tennis Elbow. Though these conditions can occur as a result of trauma, they are most commonly the result of overuse. Additionally, they do not heal on their own (the way a muscle does) because tendons and ligaments have a poor blood supply. Consequently, if you were to overwork a tendon or ligament and tear some of its fibers, there is not a significant enough amount of blood that is delivered to the affected area to begin the healing process.
The best treatment for Golfer’s Elbow or Tennis Elbow (tendonosis) is shockwave therapy. With an 85% – 90% success rate, the process consists of emitting sound waves over the damaged tendon to help stimulate growth of new arteries in the tendon (angiogenesis). This increases the blood supply and thereby allows the tendon to heal. After treatment the tendon is actually thicker as it has regenerated.
In order to help prevent a recurrence, stretches are recommended to keep these muscles (the wrist flexors and wrist extensors) from tightening up.