Losing your Grip - Tennis Elbow
Are you Losing Your Grip?
I mean this literally. Do you find things slip out of your fingers? When you empty the dishwasher do you drop or nearly drop plates? Do you find writing with a pen or pencil uncomfortable? This is often an early sign of tennis elbow (or golfers elbow). Later the pain will be more obvious around the elbow.
Causes of some of the most painful cases I have treated recently include:
- Gardening - a whole day spent digging out small weeds with a hand trowel
- Drumming - a professional drummer who decided to paint his home with a paintbrush as well as practise his drumming every day
- Drawing - a clothes designer who had a submission deadline and spent nearly 20 hours hand drawing and shading with pencils
Most of the muscles that work the wrist and fingers are in the forearms. It is when these muscles get out of balance with each other that problems begin. Sometimes you can feel an early problem as a juddering sensation when you touch your forearm muscles while bending your wrist up and down.
|Wrist Bent Up
|Wrist Bent Down
Common things that provoke this problem include:
- prolonged "hammer" grip; for example walking while carrying a heavy briefcase,
- prolonged "precision" grip; for example using a computer mouse or stylus for hours at a time,
- excessive "screwdriver" work. A few years ago I would have included many DIY jobs as high risk because of the repeated spiral "screwdriver" movements but thanks to power tools this is rarely a problem nowadays
The initial stiffness in the fingers and hands can progress to pain in the thumb and pain at the upper forearm near the elbow. Pain at the outer elbow is called "tennis elbow", pain at the inner elbow is called "golfer's elbow".
The good news is that both conditions are treatable, and the sooner the better with acupuncture and remedial exercise. Acupuncture and remedial exercise are very effective treatments. Massage can also be helpful when overuse of the gripping muscles has caused them to contract and tighten. Some people find arm and wrist supports helpful.
Contact Bill Ferguson for Osteopathy in Kent