With the return of spring comes the chance for you to blow the dust off of your golf clubs and tennis racquet. Given the recent weather, you probably have not been a regular on the links or courts – so your game may even be a little rusty. While you are eager to rush back to activity, your elbow may try to tell you otherwise.
You may have heard of “lateral epicondylitis” or more commonly tennis elbow. This is a painful condition involving the outside of the elbow that may be caused by overuse. The pain is generated by inflammation of the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the elbow and is worsened by activities requiring repetitive motion. There is no rule that says you have to play tennis to get this condition, and lateral epicondylitis may be seen in plumbers, carpenters, painters, auto workers – really anything that includes repetitive motion and weight lifting.
Golfer’s elbow or “medial epicondylitis” is in many ways similar to tennis elbow, except that this condition involves inflammation of the tendons attaching to the medial (inside) elbow. Other activities, including throwing sports may also result in this condition.
Your doctor may evaluate your elbow in a number of ways to determine the source of your symptoms. Sometimes this involves x-rays to rule out other things or recommending that you have Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of your elbow. MRI is especially helpful in evaluating not only the bones, muscles and ligaments, but also for looking at the tendons for signs of inflammation. In the case of golfer’s elbow, an orthopedic and sports imaging radiologist is closely evaluating the common flexor-pronator muscle group at the junction of the muscle and tendon. In lateral epicondylitis, MRI will often show inflammation or tendinosis of the common extensor tendon mechanism.
While your doctor will help establish the best way to evaluate your symptoms, rest assured that if imaging is required for further evaluation, the caring staff and specialized orthopedic radiologists at Wake Radiology are eager to help you. While the images of your elbow will show bones, muscles and tendons, our doctors see the person who’s ready to return to activities they enjoy – pain free. At Wake Radiology, no one sees you like we do.
Learn more about Wake Radiology’s orthopedic and sport imaging radiologists.