I was working with a patient the other day and thought I might share this story with you. She was a 46 year-old female with complaints of inside-right elbow pain. Her pain developed over a period of about 6 weeks because her big Labrador retriever was pulling on the dog leash while they were walking. She went to the doctor and was diagnosed with “golfer’s elbow”.
GOLFER’S ELBOW – NOT ONLY A GOLFER’S PROBLEM
Golfer’s elbow is a problem with the tendons that arise from a boneon the inside aspect of the elbow called the medial epicondyle.People that suffer from golfer’s elbow are often involved in racquet sports, golf, or in this case holding onto a dog leash. Typically, someone who experiences golfer’s elbow overuses the forearm,traumatizing the tendons.
MORE THAN INFLAMMATION
When you injure yourself, the healing process starts with inflammation. The blood vessels open up around the injury to allow the appropriate repairing cells (white blood cells and fibroblasts) to do their job. Typically, inflammation is over in about one week. Golfer’s elbow can be painful for months. Why? Recent research seems to indicate that tendon injuries are more than inflammation. When researchers examine these damaged tendons, they appear to have lost some of their normal strength and density – a condition called tendinosis. Repair of these problems is often slow and incomplete. The normal tendon tissue is replaced by weak dysfunctional tissue.
Usually, activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications, ice, and progressive stretching and strengthening will relieve most cases. Over the last 5 years, clinical researchers have concluded that is often necessary to break down that weak tissue to stimulate regeneration of healthy tendon tissue. Techniques like eccentric tendon loading, cross friction massage (sometimes with specific treatment instruments), even shockwave therapy are often helpful.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you experience golfer’s elbow, like the case described above, it might not be just an inflammatory problem. It isn’t unheard of for recover to take 6-9 months. If you have tendon problems, make sure you get right in to see us. Proper treatment just might speed up your recovery.