Elbow Problems

  • Elbow pain is common, however the cause of this pain is frequently misdiagnosed.
  • Many apparent elbow problems are actually neck problems, where the disc in the neck squashes the nerve that runs behind it. These nerve roots join together and form a huge nerve (called the Brachial Plexus, the equivalent of the Sciatic nerve in the lower limb) that runs down the arm and into the elbow, supplying the elbow muscles.
  •  When a cervical disc (disc in the neck) squashes these nerves, frequently the muscles supplied by this nerve tighten and produce pain and weakness.
  • This can occur in the absence of neck pain! (Hiding the clue the problem is the neck).
  • A thorough Elbow Assessment should include testing of the neck to exclude this possibility. It may be that your specific Elbow problem has both neck and local elbow components.

 

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What structures in the shoulder are locally affected?

  • Many structures within the Elbow can be injured and cause pain.
  • The most common diagnosis for Elbow pain is Tennis Elbow (also know as Lateral Epicondylitis). This refers to the point where the forearm muscles insert into the elbow, as this is often the location of the pain.
  • While the condition exists, it is frequently misdiagnosed and by far the more common cause of the Elbow problem is actually the neck and/or the joints inside the elbow (there are two bones in the forearm, forming two joints in the elbow with the humerus).
  • The most commonly injured structure inside the Elbow is the cartilage that sits between these two joints at the elbow.
  • Certain movements of the Elbow (most commonly repeated bending of the elbow, as in bricklaying or bicep curls) cause a flap of this cartilage to protrude into the joint space.
  • Loading the elbow to lift or grip pinches this cartilage that causes pain and inhibits power, mimicking a tennis elbow tendon issue.
  • Frequently this is the cause of the restriction and pain, and the loss of power.

 

If this is the cause of your problem, certain exercises can be identified during your McKenzie Assessment that essentially push the flap of cartilage back into place, which gives a relief of pain and restores strength and movement within minutes.