Tennis Elbow

What constitutes tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow – technically called lateral humeral epicondylitis (got that?) – is inflammation of the tissue at the end of the humerus (arm bone) where it joins the elbow joint, thus causing pain to radiate from the elbow joint down to the wrist. This inflammation is caused by the repetitive flexing of the wrist against resistance. It may result from athletic activity or
manual manipulation of tools or other equipment. This is similar to “Carpenters Elbow” except that the latter demonstrates its inflammation at the ulna, or inside bone of the arm (your funny bone). Again, the presence or absence of inflammation is not particularly difficult to diagnose. The real question is why is the joint inflamed? The causes can be from simple overuse (Repetitive Stress Injury – RSI) or from a breakdown somewhere else in the kinetic chain – wrist or
shoulder dysfunction.

Very frequently, both elbow and wrist problems are the result of shoulder dysfunction. Stand in front of a full-length mirror, relax, let your shoulders, arms and hands drop into their natural position, now look at your thumbs.

Stick them straight out. Do they point across your body, or straight ahead? If one or both point across your
body you have a very high probability of having shoulder dysfunction.

How can a shoulder problem cause elbow or wrist problems? Good question, thanks for asking. Any joint, along with it’s muscles, is strongest in the centre of it’s range of motion. From the exercise above we can see that as the shoulder rolls forward, the arm and hand roll in. This means that in order to do most work we now have to rotate the elbow and wrist outward to near full rotation, which is very nearly it’s weakest point. So, as we do work with the joint being compromised, we greatly increase the risk of breakdown or sprain-strain type of injuries. This should explain why, in order to effect
good long term results with wrist and elbow problems, we must also rehab the shoulders.

If you have more questions regarding your specific problem call our office at (780) 963-4608 to set up a consultation with Dr. McLeod.
This information represents only a brief summary of the conditions discussed and is presented as a public service by the Immanuel Healing Centre. For this or any other health problems about which you have concerns please consult personally with a health care professional.