Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sore Elbow

My right elbow has a reaccuring problem with tennis elbow. Although I don't play tennis, most of my activities are the type that stress this sore elbow. My job that requires me to sit at a keyboard most of the day, computer games, woodworking, bowling, golf, coaching volleyball and this blog are all activities that seem to stress my sore elbow.

I have been to a couple different doctors through the years. The first just told me to stretch it before use and give it time. After two years of living with a mildly sore elbow I sought out a different doctor. He gave me a shot of a cortizone derivative and showed me some stretchs and exercises that I should use daily. This worked for about a year.

Last year I started experiencing regular pain with my elbow again. Unfortunately my other doctor had retired. I finally got a hold of him and got a recommendation for a doctor to see. He gave me the name of a doctor in Bakersfield. So on a flex friday my dear wife and I ran over to Bakersfield and saw this new doctor.

The new doctor also recommended a shot and also showed me the same stretches and exercises. He told me that if the pain returned again I should call back and he would put me in touch with one of the clinics surgeons. I got the distinct impression that he didn't want to see me again.

So I got my shot and started doing the exercises and stretchs daily for several months.

The pain returned. About three months ago I started getting twinges in my elbow again. After a couple weeks the twinges had grown to all out full time pain. But this time it was different. Before when I had problems, I would lose grip strength in my right hand and the elbow would hurt whenever I tried to lift or move anything in a palm down position.

This time however I don't seem to have lost any grip strength. Sure squeezing things hurts, but it is bareable. What is not bareable is the stabbing pain I get when I try to use my arm for more than a couple minutes with the elbow bent. Activites like shaving or typing cause a sharp pain in the elbow. The elbow also gets very stiff, very quickly. My entire forearm and hand get numb and throb. After shaving I can barely straighten out my arm again.

Since the doctor in Bakersfield seemed to think my only option at this point was surgery, I called the local clinic and found out that they had a orthopedist on staff again. So I made an appointment. But I had to wait 6 weeks.

Today was my appointment. The last 6 weeks have been miserable. I have practically lived with an elbow brace on my forearm. It helps a bit, but not completely.

This new doctor gave me the same exam that I have gotten from the last three. He poked and prodded my elbow for about a minute and then announced that I had Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow). Since I had received two shots in the elbow in the last two years. He felt that another shot would probably not help. He told me that surgery would only have a 50% chance of helping, and may even cause more trouble than I already have. His suggestion was that since this problem had been surfacing on and off for over 16 years that I just get used to it and learn to live with it.

I told him that I had been living with this for 16 years already and it was starting to really disrupt my life. I can't deliver a bowling ball, taking a divot in golf hurts bad enough that I almost drop the clubs. I can't run a mouse for more than 2 minutes without pain. Just typing a message this length would require me to stop at least 3 times. I've been demonstrating volleyball techniques left handed and it's confusing many of my players.

Finally the Doctor decided that he would give me the shot for some temporary relief. But he cautioned that I should start making changes to my life that will allow me to live with this problem.

So I'm going to give it a few weeks or months and see how things go. If the problems come up again I will have to seek out a different doctor. I can make some changes to my life to try and protect my elbow but there is just so many things that I can't give up. I'm considering switching over to bowling left handed. This would protect my right elbow, and also get me away from sliding on my bad left knee. I bowled left handed for one season 20 years ago while recovering from my first knee surgery. I have worked hard to get up to the 185 average I carry. I really don't want to start over again bowling around 100. But I guess it would be better than having to quit all together.

So I had a shot this evening. The elbow is pretty sore from the fluid being forced into it. It has bruised up quite nicely which is bothering my wife because I don't usually bruise.

I need to stop typing for a while I don't want to stress the elbow and more than I already have.


Anonymous said...

I have a sore elbow that appeared out of nowhere. Woke up with it one morning and it's really bothering me. My left elbow is the one that's sore, and I happen to have a mild case of cerebral palsy on my left side. Naturally because of my CP, I can't use my left arm very much. I don't know if I slept on it funny or did something to it without realizing it. Should I have any cause for concern? do i nees tennis elbow surgery ?

Sarah Jasson said...

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