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  • Writer's picturePursuit of Motion Physiotherapists

Golfer's Elbow or Tennis Elbow...It's All in the Wrist!

"Golfer's elbow or tennis elbow - not just injuries for athletes!"

What is lateral and medial epicondylitis? 

Lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, will typically cause pain on the outside of the elbow and forearm.

Medial epicondylitis, also known as golfer’s elbow, typically causes pain on the inside of the forearm.

These injuries are progressive, so patients will notice pain increase over time, rather than pain occurring immediately due to injury. To prevent medial and lateral epicondylitis from getting more severe, we encourage patients to start rehab sooner rather than later with some stretches and exercises.

Medial Epicondylitis

Starting with the medial epicondyle, this is your common flexor origin, and these muscles create wrist flexion. Repetitive wrist flexion is common in many sports and jobs, such as carpentry, plumbing, and many trades. This can lead to the development of medial epicondylitis, which typically causes pain down the inside of the arm and a focal point of pain on the inside point of the elbow. When you are not doing rehab exercises, ice the area and avoid the activity that causes pain.

Stretching & Strengthening

Stretches for golfer’s elbow can help reduce tightness felt in the wrist flexor muscles. Stretch the wrist flexor muscles by holding your arm out straight in front of you, your palm facing away from you, and your fingers straight and pointing down. Using your other hand, gently pull your fingers back towards you and slightly outwards to feel a stretch on the inside of your forearm. Do this stretch 3 times for 30 seconds, doing both arms if needed.

Another option is taking a small hard ball, such as a lacrosse ball, and push into areas where you are sore. If you are targeting medial epicondylitis, this will likely be along the inside of the forearm. When you reach an area that is sore, hold the ball at that spot for 10-20 seconds until the pain goes away, and then move to the next spot.

Strengthening exercises are also important for medial epicondylitis. While seated, rest your arm on your leg with your hand hanging off your knee and hold a light weight in your hand with your palm upwards. Perform 3 sets of 7 reps of wrist curls to start strengthening your wrist flexors.

Tip: If this exercise becomes easy and you do not experience pain while performing it, try focusing more on the eccentric movement. This can be done by slowly lowering your hand while holding the weight, rather than performing quick and rapid movements.

Lateral Epicondylitis

Moving onto lateral epicondylitis, this will cause pain on the outside of the elbow and forearm and can be caused by repetitive wrist extension.

Stretching & Strengthening Stretches for tennis elbow can help reduce tightness felt in the wrist extensor muscles. Start with stretching by extending your arm straight out in front of you, with your palm facing downward, and using your other hand to gently guide your hand back towards you. Hold this stretch 3 times for 30 seconds.

Like medial epicondylitis you can target lateral epicondylitis with a hard ball to roll out areas that are hurting.

Not just for athletes...

This injury is not just common in tennis players and sports, but it can also affect people who work a lot on the computer. One way to address this is to take a rolled-up towel and place it under your wrist while you are typing on the computer.

This will keep your wrist in a more neutral position and reduce your symptoms while typing. If your right arm bothers you, challenge yourself to use the mouse with your left hand to give your right wrist a break.

To strengthen for lateral epicondylitis, rest your arm on a table or your leg with your hand hanging off and your palm facing downwards. Holding a light weight in your hand, slowly curl the weight down and up, assisting with your other hand while raising the weight if needed. Start with 2 sets of 7 to strengthen your wrist extensors, and if the exercises become easy with no pain, focus on the eccentric strengthening.

Try these exercises and let us know how they go! Shoot us a message for all your epicondylitis questions.


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