Is Your Elbow Pain a Pain in the Neck?

Golfer’s or pitcher’s elbow, also called medial epicondylitis, causes pain on the inner side of the elbow, and weakness and tingling in the forearm and hand. But the condition is not limited to athletes. It is actually more common in people who smoke, operate vibrating equipment or engage in manual labor frequently requiring the lifting of more than 25 pounds. Unfortunately, for many of these people, elbow pain can, in fact, be related to a pinched nerve in the neck, technically called a cervical radiculopathy.

The seven cervical (neck) vertebrae are separated by tough, flexible disks that absorb shock from movement. These bones have a large hole in the center through which the spinal cord passes and several smaller holes that allow nerves coming o the spinal cord to enter the body. Any condition that injures the nerve root where it emerges from the spinal column is called a radiculopathy. In younger people, radiculopathy usually results from a herniated or bulging disk that causes pain by pressing on the nerve root. In older people, the cause is often a change in bone structure that narrows the hole through which the nerve passes. Initial treatment with physical therapy usually involves rest, ice, and stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as correcting any improper sports techniques. A soft collar worn for a short period of time rests the neck muscles and limits neck motion. We can help you properly align your spine and improve your posture while sitting at home or on the job if your neck pain is the result of a bulging disk. In addition, we can show you how to use your stabilizing muscles such as the serratus anterior, middle and lower trapezius, rhomboids and latissimus dorsi. To further improve posture while alleviating pain, an easily learned technique called cervical retraction can be performed at home 20 to 30 times each day, either all at once but more often divided into five to eight repetitions four to ve times during the day. For ultimate success in treating your cervical radiculopathy and elbow pain, we can work with your physician and you to design an exercise program of stretching and strengthening to help ease your pain and restore your function.