You have probably already heard of epicondylitis, aka tennis elbow, which affects many people over the course of their lives. You may not be as familiar with its little sister, the less common medial epicondylitis (also called golfer’s elbow). These two pathologies affect the tendons that attach to the elbow, but at different spots.
These injuries are both kinds of tendinitis, a pathology that affects the tendons.
Epicondylitis involves the tendons of the wrist extensor muscles and is frequently associated with racket sports like tennis. However, most people who experience the symptoms of this condition have not played racket sports or performed repetitive wrist motions.
Medial epicondylitis, which affects the wrist flexor muscles, is not always linked to golf and striking sports. The vast majority of patients with pain in these areas are office workers who spend long hours seated and do not overuse their wrist muscles. Yet they do indeed develop the symptoms of these pathologies. Why could that be?
We often hear about the importance of workplace ergonomics to help maintain good posture. That is one of the factors that triggers epicondylitis in desk workers. Poor neck and shoulder posture can cause irritation in the nerve tissue along the paths leading to the forearm muscles. That irritation can lead to abnormal muscle tone in the wrist extensors or flexors and create tension that is felt on the muscle tendons. Therefore, the symptoms emerge and intensify based on one’s posture on the job and not because of repetitive gestures.
Nevertheless, it is possible for tendinitis to come from repeated movements made when playing sports or performing manual tasks, such as hammering or painting. These repetitive movements cause pain to develop where the tendons attach because their work capacity is being exceeded.This results in tendon degeneration, then tendinitis.
How to prevent these injuries in less active people:
How to prevent these injuries in at-risk athletes or in those who perform repetitive tasks:
If, in spite of these tips, you develop symptoms consistent with these conditions, feel free to contact one of our physical therapists.