4 Causes of Elbow Pain and How Chiropractic can Help
Elbow pain in Friendswood may arise from many conditions including, injury, repetitive use, or even neck and upper pack issues that create stress or damage in the nerves that go to the arm. Although elbow pain may arise from inflammation of the soft tissue around the elbow on either side, most commonly pain down the arm arises more frequently due to neck and upper back dysfunction.
According to an abstract posted on PubMed titled Prevalence of pain and dysfunction in the cervical and thoracic spine in persons with and without lateral elbow pain states;
“The purpose of this study was to survey the prevalence of pain in the cervical and thoracic spine (C2-T7) in persons with and without lateral elbow pain… The frequency of pain responses to the provocation tests of the cervical and thoracic spine was significantly higher (p<0.05) in the lateral elbow pain (LEP) group… The results indicate a relation between lateral elbow pain and pain in the vertebral spine (C2-T7).”
Let’s examine why this may occur.
Back to the Roots
The Neck contains 7 vertebrae (C1-C7) and the Mid Back contains 12 vertebrae (T1-T12). Spinal nerves extend from the spinal cord, protected by the spine, and come out between each vertebra via a channel called a foramen.
Each nerve is responsible for operating a specific area of the body. In the case of the arms or upper extremities, spinal nerves C5-C8 and T1 merge together into 3 larger nerves to create the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus passes through the chest and extend down the arm to form the Median Nerve, Ulnar Nerve and Radial Nerves.
These nerve pass through multiple channels to from the neck, through the chest, elbow, and into the hand. Compression of the nerves can occur from spine or spinal disc conditions such as herniation of the disc from injury or degeneration. Degeneration or injury to the spine can cause decreased space in the foramen or channel which can damage the nerve root causing pain, tingling, or numbness in the arm and hand. This is known as Radiculopathy.
Muscles in the chest can also become tight due to prolonged sitting and poor posture, which can pull the structures of the chest and shoulders forward causing compression of the nerves of the neck and brachial plexus, known as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
Another way these nerves can become irritated is when the Ulnar Nerve in the arm becomes trapped in the cubital tunnel, a passage way in the elbow. Other conditions that cause elbow pain include:
- Tendonitis (tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow) – inflammation of the tendon that attaches to the body landmarks in the elbow
- Bursitis – inflammation of the protective sack-like tissue filled with fluid designed to act a protective cushion and friction reducer around muscles and tendons that attach to bones
- Sprains & Strains – injury to the muscle or tendon resulting in fraying or tearing of the tissue
- Arthritic conditions resulting in the degeneration of the bones of the joint and cartilage in the joint
How Can Chiropractic Help My Elbow?
A Chiropractor is expertly trained to assess and diagnose disorders of the body’s structure, nerves, and muscles. After a full evaluation, the Chiropractor can make a diagnosis based upon the outcome of the evaluation and determine whether nerve impingement may be the root cause of elbow dysfunction.
Spinal manipulations for the neck has been successful in treating radiating pain or pain that travels into to the arm. Also, by decreasing pressure on the nerve roots that come from the spine and through the vertebrae, increases muscle function, strength, and tone; increasing overall health in the arm.
An article published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics:
“In this study, patients that had outside elbow pain had a significant decrease in measurable pain to touch with their neck adjusted (cervical manipulation) … This study is showing that if there is a restriction at the neck this can affect the nerves entering from the elbow and by removing that restriction (and irritation to the nerve where it enters) that you can have decreased pain at the elbow.”
Other treatments such as myofascial release or manual therapy, adjustment of the joint of the elbow, and strengthening for the muscles that support the elbow have also been effective in the treatment of elbow pain.
According to a case study Combination of manipulation, exercise, and physical therapy for the treatment of a 57-year-old woman with lateral epicondylitis:
“In the 10-week protocol, we used high-velocity and low-amplitude manipulation, high-voltage pulsed galvanic stimulation, a hard-padded elbow brace, ice, and exercise, along with restricted use of the affected elbow...Overall, there was a systematic reduction of pain (92.86%), specific activity (100%), and usual activity (96.87%), and even after 3 weeks of follow-up…”
If you’re currently experiencing elbow pain, Forever Well Chiropractic welcomes you to a brief consultation with Dr. Haywood to determine if chiropractic care is right for you. After an examination, he can provide an individualized approach to the root of the problem.
Call for your appointment today!