- Start with an accurate and complete diagnosis from a soft tissue specialist. There are many causes of elbow pain. Two of the most common diagnoses are adhesion and tendon degeneration.
- Adhesion forms from overuse and is the most common cause of pain and stiffness in the elbow. Learn more about adhesion here.
- Tendon degeneration also occurs from overuse. The tendons of the muscles in your forearm that attach onto your elbow can degenerate and create chronic pain that will not go away. This pain can be reversed with the correct treatment and management. (Dr. Note: It is important to get the proper treatment and management right away, there is a window of opportunity to fix this and if that passes it may never return to normal). If you have been given the label of tennis elbow or golfers elbow then you likely have undiagnosed tendon degeneration in your arm that needs specific diagnosis, treatment and management.
- Avoid ineffective treatment methods. Stretching, ice, tape, straps, cupping and/or adjustments will not fix adhesion or degenerated tendons. The fastest way to heal elbow pain is to have the adhesion treated by a soft tissue specialist.
- Manage your load. It may be necessary to temporarily reduce the activities that make your elbow hurt. This needs to be done in conjunction with soft tissue treatment to the muscles and tendons otherwise your pain will likely come back.
- Stop covering up the pain with medication. Covering up the pain with medication will only allow you to do further damage and develop more pathology. Anti-inflammatories, pain creams, cortisone shots and other types of pain management will not do anything to fix adhesion, or tendon degeneration. In fact, pain medication will make tendon degeneration and adhesion worse and slow down the recovery process.
- You have to pass the self-assessment (below).Place your arm against the wall with your elbow at 90 degrees. Use your other had to pull your fingers and wrist into extension. Your fingers should extend about 65° with ease and very little pulling/stretching in your forearm. Failing this test means you have adhesion in the muscles that cause elbow pain.
The earlier you receive the correct treatment for elbow pain the faster you can get back to living a pain free life. Dr. Phipps is a soft tissue specialist and has special training in the diagnosis and treatment of elbow pain.