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Medial Epicondylitis and Elbow Pain: How To Finally Get Rid of It So You Can Enjoy Climbing Again – Part 3

What Are The Causes of Medial Epicondylitis?

Part 1 / Part 2

As I mentioned in Part 2 of this series, the only way to completely get rid of this elbow pain is to fully address all the causes contributing to the problem. This can be a very long list of things depending on each climber’s situation. Here are some examples of common, and not-so-common, causes of medial epicondylitis in rock climbers:

  • Tight forearm muscles
  • Excess stress to the common flexor tendon
  • Over-gripping while climbing
  • Poor footwork when climbing
  • Tight upper back
  • Tight lower back
  • Tight shoulders
  • Poor ribcage mobility
  • Stiff joints at the wrist
  • Shoulder Instability
  • Climber’s Back Posture
  • Joint restrictions at the elbow
  • Muscular imbalances of the shoulders
  • Poor shoulder blade control
  • And the list goes on.

Just because you have a common cause of medial epicondylitis doesn’t mean that you’ll develop it or that it’s a major contributor to the pain you’re experiencing. And conversely, we’ve had patients with perfectly flexible shoulders still develop medial epicondylitis. In those cases, it was often the tightness of the upper and lower back that were the primary causes of their medial epicondylitis.

Want to find out which of the things on the list above might be causing your elbow pain? It shouldn’t cost you any money to find out. If you’re in the Austin area, click here to request a FREE Climbing Analysis with one of our elbow-specialist physical therapists.

Many of the causes of medial epicondylitis are interlinked and one cause often leads to another. For example, an old shoulder injury from long ago that you completely forgot about might have left you with decreased shoulder range of motion. This leads to tightness in the shoulder muscles, which then transfers abnormal forces to the elbow when you’re climbing and is the primary cause of your medial epicondylitis. In this situation, you could massage, roll out, and stretch your forearm muscles all day long and it won’t result in a long-term fix of the problem – the shoulder mobility must first be resolved for the elbow to loosen up and stay loose.

Some people get confused when they read that a tight upper back or poor rib cage mobility has anything to do with medial epicondylitis. Having a tight upper back and poor rib cage mobility limits your ability to rotate your spine. Rotation of your spine is necessary when performing climbing movements such as the “rose” or “stepping through” for a foothold. The limitation in spinal rotation increases the demand your forearm muscles must use to hold on and leads to increased stress to your common flexor tendon (the tendon which many of your forearm muscles attach to at your elbow).

 

So What Is The Best Medial Epicondylitis Treatment in Austin, Texas?

Hopefully you’ve learned from this article that every case of medial epicondylitis is different and therefore requires a climbing specialist to identify all the various components contributing to the problem. Missing even one piece of the puzzle can be enough to prevent your elbow from making a full recovery, and your elbow pain will continue to place limitations on your life. Depending on which factors are causing your elbow pain, different types of practitioners will be best suited to help you get rid of the pain and back to the active lifestyle you desire here in Austin.

Looking for the best practitioner to help you overcome your injury? I’ve written a FREE report to help guide you through this decision-making process. By asking 6 Questions, you’ll be able to decide if the healthcare provider you’re choosing will be able to help you get back to pain-free rock climbing.

We are of course a little biased but can honestly say that good physical therapy treatment and guidance should be able to resolve at least 90% of medial epicondylitis cases without interventions from other providers (i.e. anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, or surgical interventions). Sometimes relief can be achieved quite quickly and other times it can take a greater number of treatments. But in most cases, medial epicondylitis is ultimately fixable with the proper treatment.

Also, a physical therapist who specializes in myofascial release therapy has an incredible number of potential treatment techniques and strategies. However, not all physical therapy approaches are created equal so there are a few things you need to make sure of when seeking physical therapy or any form of treatment:

  • They are trained in hands-on myofascial release techniques and use them as part of their treatment plans.
  • They see very few patients per hour so they actually have the time to identify all the factors causing your pain AND the time to treat every one of those factors.

If your healthcare provider is not using some form of hands-on myofascial release therapy, you are likely not getting everything you need to completely get rid of your elbow pain. And if they are rushing from one patient to the next, seeing multiple patients per hour or multiple patients at one time, it’s impossible to give the highest quality of care. With how stubborn medial epicondylitis can be to fully recover from, you need high quality care and undivided attention during your treatment sessions.

At Perspective Physical Therapy, treatment sessions are always 1-on-1 with a therapist certified in myofascial release therapy, and we offer 30 and 60 minute treatment sessions at our practice in Austin. This allows us the necessary time and focused attention we need to fully treat every aspect of your medial epicondylitis so you can get back to rock climbing as quickly as possible.

We teach our patients everything they need to be doing on their own time and do not have patients come to the clinic to perform exercises they can do at home or the gym. Focused therapeutic exercises and stretches are a vital part of any medial epicondylitis treatment plan, but we believe patients shouldn’t be spending time and money in the clinic doing things they can do on their own time.

What Is The Best Medial Epicondylitis Exercise? What Medial Epicondyitis Treatment Can I Do Myself?

I’ve provided below a simple push-up routine that can help ease some pain associated with medial epicondylitis, but please understand that this will not likely fully resolve your elbow pain. Diagnosis and hands-on treatment by a qualified healthcare provider is essential in getting rid of almost all cases of medial epicondylitis.

In regards to what else can be done on your own, another question we often get asked from patients is “Should I use Kinesio Tape?” This is typically referring to using an elastic sports tape to help relieve pain and support muscles, tendons, & ligaments. While it can assist in providing extra support, it is usually the last step in the recovery process. Without getting the proper treatment beforehand, using Kinesio Tape is often ineffective (though highly fashionable!). Elite level athletes will most often use this elastic sports tape during competitions only. I can promise you that none of them use tape during their normal gym and workout sessions.

Don’t Let Medial Epicondylitis Keep You From Enjoying all the Rock Climbing Austin has to Offer.

As our home page states, We Help Climbers Overcome Pain and Get Back to Rock Climbing! If medial epicondylitis or any form of elbow pain is keep you from climbing in the way you enjoy, let us help you get to the bottom of the issue and create a plan to get you back to the crag. If you’re in the Austin / Central Texas area, request a free phone consultation here or if you prefer email, you can send us a message through our contact page.

 

Health is Wealth,

Dr. Q  PT, DPT, FAFS

Perspective Physical Therapy

 

Looking for more information about the Anatomy and Physiology for medial epicondylitis relief? I’ve created a Patient Education Portal just for you.

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