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Common Injuries of the Elbow

The elbow joins the upper arm bone (humerus) with the bones of the forearm (radius and ulna). It is comprised of two joints, forming a hinge joint at the humerus and ulna allowing the arm to bend and straighten, and a rotating joint at the humerus and radius that allows the hand to turn palm upwards or downwards. The elbow is dense with nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons that provide dexterity and sensation to the hands.

One of the most common complaints associated with the elbow is caused by irritation to the nerves that travel through the elbow through tunnels. Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) are the common descriptions used to describe pain, numbness and weakness in the hands and arms that result from a wide variety of activities that include but are not limited to tennis and golf.

Tennis elbow pain is most often felt at the large bump of the elbow where the muscles of the forearm attach to the lateral epicondyle with a single tendon. These are the muscles that bend the wrist back. Overuse from any repetitive activity that involves gripping, such as a back swing in tennis, but also painting, pruning shrubs or hammering nails.

Pain associated with Golfer’s elbow is experienced on the inside of the forearm where the wrist flexors (muscles that flex the wrist and forearm downwards) attach to the medial epicondyle. The action of gripping a golf club during a swing, and any other activity with a similar action, can cause pain to radiate down the forearm to the hand, as well as weakness in the hand when forming a fist.

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