The elbow can be a vulnerable joint, and our Toronto physiotherapists and chiropractors treat many patients with injuries to the elbow and arm. As spring comes, and gardening is on many people’s minds, there’s a potential injury that you should know about.
It’s called Gardener’s Elbow, and you can do a lot to avoid it.
Gardener’s Elbow = Tennis Elbow/Golfer’s Elbow
Essentially, Gardener’s Elbow may be either:
- Tennis Elbow, or lateral epicondylitis (pain in outer elbow), or
- Golfer’s Elbow, or medial epicondylopathy (pain in inner elbow).
In both cases, it involves an injury to the tendons of the elbow. Pain is usually the first symptom you’ll notice.
- Pain usually develops over time, but may come about as a result of a single incident
- The pain may progress from an ache to a stabbing pain;
- It may resolve in a few days, or last for months.
- Tenderness around the joint;
- Stiffness that can extend down to the wrist, and even thumb;
- Fatigue and weakness in the arm, a weaker grip.
Gardener’s Elbow is caused by repetitive actions that involve flexion of the elbow joint.
- It can happen when you are pruning, digging, weeding, shovelling, lifting, pushing a wheelbarrow – among other activities related to gardening;
- It can also be caused by a single violent incident, such as carrying or pushing something too heavy.
The activity causes inflammation to the joint, which in turn causes pain. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, our Toronto physiotherapists and other sports medicine specialists are available to devise a customized treatment plan.
The best treatment is rest, and while there are certainly effective therapies to manage pain, and help promote healing, prevention is always better than a cure.
Gardening may seem like a simple and natural activity, but if you are experiencing pain, or any of the other symptoms of Gardener’s Elbow, it’s a sign that there’s more to think about than you might suppose. Here are some ideas you should keep in mind.
- Warm up for gardening in the same spirit you would for a workout. Stretches and light activity will prepare your muscles and joints for the work you are about to do.
- Strengthen the muscles of your arm, and use them rather than putting stress onto the joint.
- Work into your tasks gradually – start the season slow, and let your strength and skill build.
- Are you performing the action required for your tasks, and using your tools, in the correct way? There is always an optimal method of executing an action that will minimize strain on your joints. If you’re in doubt, it’s a good idea to check out a few videos of expert gardeners performing the same tasks – take note of their stance, how they hold the tools, and other details.
- Use aids to help you carry or move heavy objects – don’t tough it out on your own.
- Slow down – slowing down and gaining better control of your movements can go a long way towards avoiding undue strain and injury.
- Choose the right tools – it’s not only a matter of a specific tool for the specific job, does the tool fit your hand? Is it the right size, so you are not over-curling your hand to grasp it? Is it too stiff for your fingers to use? Choose tools that you find easy to hold and use.
- Use elbow pads, and never lean on your bare elbow or put weight on it directly.
If you are experiencing pain or any other issue with your elbow or arms, call one of our Toronto physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics today for a consultation. Our sports medicine specialists have answers to your questions about musculoskeletal health.