Tennis elbow and Cubital tunnel syndrome

Question: Help! I have tennis elbow in both arms and cubital tunnel syndrome also in my right arm (dominant one). My ortho sent me to a physiotherapist (P.T.), whom I trust. My P.T. says my tennis elbow therapy is aggravating my cubital tunnel syndrome. Has anyone had both of these problems at the same time? Any treatment been successful? I am wearing elbow pads, but they are generally not seen because they’re under my clothes. This is a problem because there is no outward sign of disability. This makes it hard for others to understand that even minor movements can cause great pain. Any advice is appreciated.

Answer 1: I understand your problem, as mine is from the tips of the fingers to the shoulders on both sides, and no cure after 2 years. You do not mention if you are wearing supportive splints. If you do not have these, you must get some from your doctor/hospital. In my opinion, they are far better than any physiotherapy, as they offer a good natural resting position for the wrists and hands. From my personal experience, the more therapy you have, the worse the problem becomes. I may create a surge of disapproval from other people by saying this who may have found something positive from it, but I think it is just best to rest as much as possible, accept it, and live with it, as curing seems to remain a mystery. I use 5 inch long marker pens in both hands to type instead of fingers, and this enables me to type quite well without a special keyboard, and it minimises the movement from the hands. It does look silly to other people though, but it works. I tried a demo of Kurzweil voicepad, but my microphone is too poor for it to work, and there is too much background noise from my 2girls constantly bickering as well.

It is always a major problem with any kind of RSI, for anyone else to perceive that there is anything wrong. If you wear splints, you will not only be helping your wrists continually, but you will also be displaying to others that you have a problem, which will help you psychologically as you won’t have to do quite so much explaining perhaps. Walking itself has always aggravated my condition just by natural synchronised arm movements. The splints stop this, and you may find this beneficial to healing as well, if your problem is not too severe. I have got nerve damage in my right hand as well as other problems, and although a physiotherapist made me aware of this, no amount of tugging can cure it. I had nerve damage once before when I guillotined the tip of a finger off. The finger grew back amazingly, and I was very lucky, but it took several years for the nerves to repair.

Answer 2: You have my deepest sympathy. I’ve never had cubital tunnel syndrome (never heard of it either) but I’ve had tennis elbow in both elbows at different times – brought on by vacuuming – I must give it up!! What cured my tennis elbow – both times – was a) wearing a (approx 1.5″ tight(ish) bandage around the fattest part of my forearm (during the day ONLY – not at night!), and b) rubbing that ibuprofen gel (sorry can’t remember the brand name) into the affected region.

Tennis elbow is an inflammation of the muscles/tendons in the elbow, the bandage stops the muscles pulling so hard in the elbow region, and the ibuprofen gel reduces the inflammation. I started out having ultrasound and things with the physio, but I gave that up after about six weeks, as it didn’t even offer me any relief. I then asked a chemist if he could sell me anything that would help – he did! It took (if I remember correctly) about 2-3 weeks or so to clear up – but it worked for me. Unfortunately, I’ve also heard of cases that were so bad they ended up with… I think it was a steroid injection in their elbow… yuk! As this doesn’t actually involve exercising in any way (particularly if someone else rubs in the gel for you!) perhaps it might be useful to you in solving your problem? Hope it helps.

Answer 3: Ah. Another ibugel user! (The best is ibugel BP. I use it at night under loose bandages when my hands get really bad. Don’t take any other painkiller at the same time. And avoid the brands that have anything added–I spent a really miserable night trying to cope with “warming” ibuprofen gel burning my hands!)

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