Elbow pain can be of different types.
However, all types of pain should not be taken lightly.
Some of the most common types of pain at the elbow can be caused by the most innocent of hobbies, sports or activities.
The most common injuries associated with elbows is golfers and tennis elbow.
But did you know that you cause severe damage to your elbow just by gardening?
Yes – it’s true!
Despite what you may have heard about elbow injuries …
It is highly common for gardeners to experience muscle soreness after spending a good part of the afternoon in the garden.
This muscle soreness often disappears in a few days’ time, but some individuals complain about chronic elbow pain weeks and even months later.
This elbow pain after gardening can be devastating and lead to severe consequences.
The term often used to describe this painful elbow condition is gardener’s elbow.
It occurs on the outside or inside of the elbow, having same symptoms like tennis elbow.
The primary differences between these conditions are the activities that led to injury and the location of the pain.
Regardless of the type of pain, these types of conditions are caused by the overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm.
This may lead to inflammation and pain around the elbow joint.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
What is it – definition?
In a gardener’s elbow, the distressing problem lies with the tendons.
Tendons are the ends of the muscles that attach to the bone.
Because of the force of the muscle, the points of insertion of the tendon on the bone become sore and they cause severe pain.
There can be different causes of this painful elbow condition.
The mechanism of this injury can vary from a single violent action to repetitive stress injury where an action is performed on a regular basis and pain develops gradually over time.
The latter reason is highly common because, in gardening, a lot of repetitive actions are performed.
The discomfort is usually a result of repetitive flexion of the elbow like carrying, digging, weeding, shoveling, lifting, pruning or pushing a wheelbarrow.
However, most of the times this injury is caused by excess pruning.
Several hours spent in the garden pruning can have several effects on your elbow.
It can also cause pain in the wrists and cause ganglion in the wrist region.
Gardener’s elbow typically occurs at the beginning of the gardening season.
In such season, gardening activities are increased in duration and intensity.
However, this injury is not typically associated with gardening only.
There may be other causes like sports and work related activities as well that may cause the same injury.
Be sure to read what our friends over at BeeBe Healthcare have to say about gardening pain.
You can read the full article and learn some neat little tricks to keep you in the garden.
Signs & Symptoms
Following are some signs and symptoms of gardener’s elbow.
If you feel any of these, consult a doctor straight away.
· Pain – Pain on the inside of the upper forearm is one of the most obvious symptoms of gardener’s elbow. However, pain can also be experienced anywhere from the elbow joint to the wrist.
· Weakness – Another sign of gardener’s elbow is the weakness in the arm. There can be difficulty in gripping, holding or lifting something.
· Stiffness – Stiffness in muscles can be felt that may cause a restriction in movement and bending of the elbow. Along with stiffness, tingling and numbness can also be experienced.
There are different treatment options available for gardener’s elbow. Some of them are:
· Cortisone Injections – These injections can offer dramatic relief from pain. However, this relief does not heal the injury in the long and just act as painkillers.
· Extracorporeal Shockwave (ECS) – This procedure involves the use of a machine that delivers shock waves to the injured tissue. As a result of the shockwaves, blood flow to the area increases that help in healing. This process is painful and is performed under anesthesia.
· Surgery – Surgery, although, is the last option, it is the most effective. A traditional surgery allows the surgeon to view the tendon, detach it to do the repairs and reattach it. It can take several weeks and even months for the muscles to become fully functional.
· Plasma – This is a new technique where the plasma is derived from the patient’s own blood and injected back to the affected area. Plasma plays a vital role in healing the muscles and rebuilding the cells. However, this procedure is very costly and is not covered in health insurance plans. So you will have to get it done on your own.
· Arthroscopic Procedures – In this procedure, a tiny camera is inserted through a puncture wound in the elbow. Using the camera, the doctors are able to cure the injury immediately. This procedure is ideal for quick healing and there are no harmful effects as well.
These are some of the treatment options available. Just in case any of these treatment options are not taken, providing rest to the elbow remains a good option to heal the muscles.
Check out what Permies.com has to say about elbow injuries when you are digging around in the dirt.
Prevention of injuries is better than treatment.
Same applies to injuries related to gardening.
Following are some of the ways you can use to prevent gardener’s elbow:
One of the major reasons of elbow pain after gardening is the use of poor gardening tools.
While gardening, make sure you have the latest gardening tools with proper comfort providing grips that can make it easier to use them.
You should also make sure that you are using the tools in the right way.
Having flaws in your technique to use the tools, you can end up getting pain in your elbow and the arm.
Stretching the muscles can prevent strain or sprain injuries.
By stretching, the muscles become flexible and will gain enough strength to perform different activities like lifting and other gardening activities.
If the muscles and tendons are tight and stiff, it is quite easy for those muscles and tendons to be pushed beyond their natural range of movement.
Get some great stretches right here to ensure your elbow pain does not get any worse.
Warming up before performing gardening activities can make the muscles prepared to perform different activities without getting affected or swollen due to pain.
The initial warm-up will also make the muscles relaxed and flexible.
However, it is always advisable to keep the warm-up light.
There are other different options as well like the use of exercise equipment to increase the strength of the muscles as well as making them healthier enough to deal with all the pain.
You can find different strengthening exercises on youtube or the internet.
Elbow pain after gardening should not be taken lightly and if the symptoms or signs appear, you should visit a doctor to ascertain if it is actually the gardener’s elbow pain.
This injury, if not treated, can make your hand useless for a long time and you will not be able to perform gardening activities during that time.
By visiting a doctor, you will get initial treatment and the doctor will also advise you the appropriate method of treatment that will cure the pain once and for all.
This pain is not progressive but it will keep hurting you until it is cured.
The inflammation can become unbearable and may go up to the joint as well.
If you don’t wish to take any of the treatment options, the only option that can help is resting.
According to the health experts, putting the elbow on braces for four to five weeks can heal the injury.
Unlike most of the treatment options, this option will heal the injury completely.
However, during this time span, you may feel lots of distress, discomfort, and pain.
Taking some painkillers can prove to be helpful.
Gardening is a fun and healthy activity that can fill your life with colors.
All you need to do is to do it the right way.
Most of the times it can be a wrong way of performing a task that might be causing the problem.
If you feel that you are having elbow pain after gardening, it is highly advisable to consult with a professional gardener to ascertain that all the tasks you are doing are being performed in the right manner.
As mentioned earlier, precaution is always better than treatment.
By taking preventative measures and precautions, you will be able to control and avoid elbow pain after gardening.
Stay safe and perform the activities the way they are supposed to be performed.
If you do all the gardening activities speedily, reducing your speed gradually can also provide favorable results and you can avoid this painful injury.
Luckily, there are a variety of pruners, scissors, and secateurs available and by selecting the appropriate type you can reduce the risk of injury.
You can also use elbow pads while gardening to reduce the risk of getting this injury.