Your wrist bone is connected to your elbow bone--ouch!

My outside of my elbow hurts when I pick things up. Sounds familiar? It could be epicondylitis—or in laymen’s terms, tennis elbow. But wait, I don’t play tennis?


Let’s talk about what is actually going on. When you bend your wrist so the back of the hand moves closer to the arm and the palm goes up (I see you doing the motion), you are turning on what we call the flexor muscles and tendons of the forearm. They are what make your wrist move in that direction. These muscles attach to tendons that insert on the lateral epicondyle of the elbow. In other words, your wrist bone is connected to your elbow bone! The reason it is called tennis elbow is that it is the same motion that is used when you are swing your tennis racket back. But it is also the same motion as when you lift anything heavy, like pots in the kitchen or children. Many people will sleep with their wrist bent in that direct which can cause it as well.


The best way to fix it is by not doing that motion. Easier said than done, right? So what else can you do? You can get the strap that you wear around your forearm. It acts as a new lever point for the tendon to give the elbow a break (yay, physics!). You can also do exercises, such as these from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons . Ice will help as well. Anti-inflammatories when taken regularly can help, though topical Voltaren Gel (which is a topical anti-inflammatory gel) is a good option if you don’t want to take a pill, or if you struggle with reflux. Your doctor can also inject steroids into the area to calm the inflammation down. Formal physical therapy can help as well. This rarely needs surgical intervention.


Oh, by the way, it if hurts on the inside of the elbow, that is golfer's elbow , because when golfers swing the break their wrists on the follow through. Though the same concept applies as it does for tennis elbow, you can use the same exercises and stretches to help.


Good news is, this will get better. Bad news, it likely will come back. But hopefully you can stave off the intense pain if you jump on treatment early.

…until next time, IrishDoc07

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