Thursday, February 07, 2008

Epicondylitis - Repetitive Strain Elbow Pain

Causes and prevention of RSI in the elbow ...

"Epicondylitis is pain at either side of the elbow where the finger and wrist muscles originate at the bony bumps of the humerus (upper arm bone).

Although frequently mistakenly thought of as a tendinitis, epicondylitis is caused by the accumulation of microscopic tearing and damage. The gradual accumulation of tearing and scarring that can be caused by repetitive trauma initially causes inflammation; However, eventually, as the body is unable to heal the build-up of daily injury, the condition changes from one of inflammation to one of degeneration. A physical change in the cellular structure of the tendons occurs including disorganization of the collagen fibers, calcifications, and loss of blood flow to the area.

The proper classification of this injury is a tendinosis, a failed healing of microscopic tissue tears. This can become an important distinction in prevention and healing of these injuries. In the early stages, treatments for inflammation such as the use of cold packs and the use of anti-inflammatory medications may be helpful. In the later stages, however, the goal may be to improve circulation to promote healing in addition to specific conditioning exercises to help organize the tissues around the elbow.

Tennis Elbow

* Lateral epicondylitis, commonly described as tennis elbow, is caused by injury to the outside edge of the elbow.
* The damage is specific to the tendons of the muscles that straighten the fingers, pull the wrist back, and turn the palm up.
* Only 20% of lateral epicondylitis is caused by actually playing tennis.

Golfer's Elbow

* Medial epicondylitis, or golfer's elbow, is caused by injury to the inside edge of the elbow.
* The damage is specific to the tendons of the muscles that close the fingers, bend the wrist forward, and turn the palm down.
* Golfer's elbow occurs only 10-20% as frequently as tennis elbow.


Classic Symptoms
o Tenderness at the sides of the elbow over the bony protuberances.
o Localized swelling at the point of tenderness.
o Pain may radiate from the elbow down the forearm and into the upper arm in more severe cases.
o Activity increases pain.
+ Tennis elbow is aggravated by gripping objects with the wrist bent backwards.
+ Golfer's elbow is aggravated by gripping objects with the wrist bent forward.

Other Possible Symptoms
o A loss of full elbow and wrist motion because of pain.
o A feeling of weakness in the arm muscles because of pain.
o Generalized swelling of the elbow.


One of the most common causes of tennis or golfer’s elbow for computer users can be positioning of the mouse.

* Reaching forward for the mouse onto a desk that is higher than the keyboard.
* Reaching for the mouse placed to the far side of the keyboard.
* Gripping the mouse tightly while using wrist motion to activate.
* Planting the wrist down and swiveling the mouse using wrist motion."    (Continued via Bella Online, Marji Hajic)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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