Even though there are many different kinds of overuse injury of the elbow, many of these conditions have similar symptoms. These can include:
- Forearm pain. You might have pain in your forearm that runs from your forearm to your wrist. Golfer’s elbow will cause pain on the inside of your forearm, while tennis elbow will cause pain on the outside.
- Wrist pain. You may experience pain when you try and flex your wrist with your palm down.
- Pain when shaking hands. Gripping someone else’s hand might cause pain in your wrist or forearm.
- Weak grip. You might notice that you can’t grip things as hard as you could before you were injured.
- Numbness. You might not be able to feel parts of your elbow, forearm, wrist, or fingers.
When to See a Doctor
Overuse injuries of the elbow can sometimes happen over a long period of time. This means that symptoms can sometimes go away for a while, or you might not notice any symptoms until your condition gets worse. Sometimes, golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow can go away on their own, but you should see a healthcare provider if your condition gets worse or does not get better.
There are many jobs, household activities, and physical activities that can cause overuse injuries of the elbow. Different injuries can be caused by different activities.
Certain physical jobs or household activities can increase your risk for this overuse injury of the elbow. People with certain jobs are at risk because the movements needed for these jobs can also put strain on the elbow.
Diagnosis and Tests
To find out if an overuse injury of the elbow is causing your pain, your healthcare provider will start with a physical exam. They will look at your forearm and ask you to move your fingers, hands, and wrists. They might touch parts of your arm and wrist to see if there are parts that are painful. Usually, this is enough to tell if you have tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, or another overuse injury of the elbow. However, your healthcare provider might decide to take an x-ray of your bone and the inside of your arm if they can’t diagnose your problem.
If you notice symptoms of an overuse injury of the elbow, you can take some steps right away to help with this problem:
- Put ice on the parts of your elbow, forearms, or wrist that feel sore, inflamed, or tender. You should use the ice every 3 or 4 hours for 15 to 20 minutes each time. Ice can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen. Always follow the package directions, and don’t take more than the package or your healthcare provider say.
If your healthcare provider decides that you have one of these injuries, they might tell you to do certain exercises that will stretch and strengthen your forearm and elbow. Once you are feeling better, you can slowly go back to the activity that caused the injury.
Usually, overuse injuries of the elbow will heal on their own with these basic treatments. However, if you are still having symptoms after 6 to 12 months, your healthcare provider may recommend physical therapy or surgery to help you get better.
Talk to a Specialist
Fortunately, many elbow injuries can be prevented by simply reducing the amount of stress placed on the joint. Strengthening the muscles surrounding your elbow, adequately stretching before exercise, and maintaining proper body mechanics both during your workouts and on the field can also help reduce your risk of an injury.