Epicondylopathy : Understanding the Symptoms & Treatment Options
Epicondylopathy, another word for golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow, is a painful condition that affects the tendons connected to the elbow. It can either be medial or lateral. Medial epicondylopathy (golfer's elbow) is damage to the tendons that attach to the elbow's inner side. On the other hand, lateral epicondylopathy (tennis elbow) usually affects the tendons that attach to the elbow's outer side. These two types often arise from repetitive stress or overuse of the forearm muscles that move your wrist and fingers.
Epicondylopathy patients usually experience pain within the elbow area when doing activities that involve extending, gripping, or twisting the wrist or fingers. Such pain may also radiate to the wrist and forearm and cause numbness, stiffness, or weakness. It can also interfere with everyday activities like lifting, typing, writing, or playing sports. You need to know the symptoms you may encounter to treat your condition effectively.
Mechanical vs. Chemical Symptoms of Epicondylopathy
Epicondylopathy was initially believed to be an inflammatory condition or tendinitis. That means that injury or excessive stress causes the swelling and irritation of the tendons. The patient's body usually responds by sending chemicals and inflammatory cells to the affected part, which causes redness and discomfort.
However, recent studies have proven that epicondylopathy might also be a degenerative condition (tendinosis). That means aging or chronic overuse causes the tendons to weaken and damage. It makes the body unable to repair the tendon tissue's microtears, causing scar tissue formation and poor blood circulation. The tendon eventually loses its strength and elasticity, which makes it more susceptible to rupture. There are different sources of pain, and mostly they fall into one of two categories: mechanical and chemical symptoms.
Mechanical symptoms are usually associated with movement and load. Pain happens when stress is placed with movement. They often worsen during or after action and improve with rest. Technique, posture, and alignment also play a role. For instance, poor mechanics during work or sports may amplify the stress on your elbow tendons and cause pain. Essentially, mechanical symptoms are structural problems.
Chemical symptoms are usually associated with pain and inflammation. Unlike mechanical symptoms, this pain isn’t associated with a particular movement. They're either intermittent or constant, irrespective of activity or rest. Lifestyle, diet, and medication also play a role. For instance, steroid use, smoking, diabetes, and obesity can hinder tendon healing and enhance inflammation. Pain from a chemical origin will not get better until the chemical reaction in the body is addressed.
It's worth noting that these symptoms aren't mutually exclusive. That means you might have chemical and mechanical symptoms of this elbow condition, depending on your condition's stage and seriousness. However, determining the dominant symptom type may help find the appropriate treatment plan. That is why it's so important to check and get an appointment with a physical therapist.
What Are the Treatment Options for Epicondylopathy?
Your elbow condition's treatment depends on your symptoms' actual cause and duration. The primary goals are to lessen pain and inflammation, enhance healing, and restore elbow and forearm function and mobility. There are many different options for treatment, but setting up an appointment with a BC + PT physical therapist is a good start! Regardless of whether you are in need of surgery or not for your specific injury, the doctors at Buffalo Chiropractic + Physical Therapy are here and able to help you during the recovery process.
Epicondylopathy can affect any one who performs strenuous or repetitive activities with their forearm muscles. Fortunately, it's usually a treatable condition. Understanding the distinction between chemical and mechanical symptoms of epicondylopathy, with the assistance of a physical therapist, will help get you on the road to recovery. Give the doctors at BC + PT a call today to set up your first appointment!