My elbow hurts.  Why does my elbow hurt? Is this pain going to last forever? What can I do to stop my elbow from hurting?  These are questions that more than likely go through your head when dealing with elbow pain. The good news is that we have answers to your questions. There are several reasons why your elbow can hurt, so we will discuss the top two causes of elbow pain. 


A tendon is the connecting point between a bone and a muscle. The suffix -itis refers to inflammation. Tendonitis is then, by definition, inflammation of the connecting point of a muscle and a bone. What causes tendonitis?  This inflammatory response to a tendon typically occurs because of overuse of that muscle group. For someone with tendonitis in the elbow, the brachioradialis muscle is normally the culprit of pain.  This muscle is used primarily in grabbing and pulling motions. If you work a job where you repetitively lift heavy objects or pull on something continuously, you may be suffering from tendonitis of the brachioradialis muscle. 

What Can Help Tendonitis?

Tendonitis is caused by excessive loading of the muscle such as in a pulling of lifting fashion. To stretch and strengthen this muscle, the best movement to focus on is eccentric loading of the brachioradialis muscle. Eccentric means using an active muscle while it is lengthening under load. The best way to imagine eccentric loading is through a bicep curl. When you picture someone doin a bicep curl they are activating the muscle by shortening it. When you go from the top part of a curl bringing it all the way back down to where you started, that is the eccentric part of the movement. You are stIll strengthening the muscle, but at the same time you are lengthening it. This eccentric movement is the key to decreasing  the inflammation around your tendon. When you begin this exercise the first few repetitions may come with discomfort but push on through this.  Load your tendons as frequently as possible to see the best results. 


Joint Dysfunction

While tendonitis can be a reason for elbow pain, dysfunction in the joint itself can cause the elbow to hurt or not operate properly. The elbow is classified as a hinge joint. This means that the function of the elbow is solely to straighten and to bend. On a daily basis the standard person has their elbow bent significantly more than they have their elbow straightened. The best example of this is someone who works a computer/desk job. 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week a desk worker has their elbows in a bent position.  Outside of work, virtually everything that we do requires our elbows to be bent. How often during the day do you have your elbows fully straightened?  My guess would be probably not too often. Your elbow, and every other joint in your body is designed to move full and free in every range of motion. We have no problem fully bending our elbows, but we often struggle with fully extending/straightening our elbows. In order to fix joint dysfunction repetitively move your elbows into full extension or fully straightening them as far as you can. The more you do this the more space your joint will have to move freely. 



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