Most elbow pain conditions that step foot in this office is the overuse condition. That is, the condition was developed over time as opposed to a single violent mechanism. Golfer's and tennis elbow are the common terms, also know as medial and lateral epicondylitis respectively.
Some people deal with this condition all their lives, whether they play those particular sports or not. There are a few main concerns I always look to when dealing with such conditions.
1. Abnormal anatomy - Sometimes people can't fully extend or lock out their elbows, if so, the stress normally presented to an elbow that would normally be handled with a locked joint will be placed upon the soft tissues around the elbow, which are easily overwhelmed. The same explanation can be used when one can hyperextend there elbow, that is, going beyond 0 degrees.
2. Inflexibility of the Shoulders or Upper Torso - When there is a lack of flexibility in the shoulders or upper torso, and a movement of the arm is made, abnormal stress are places upon the elbow. As a hinge joint (like a door), the elbow was created to move in one plane. Not side to side. When side to side forces are places upon the elbow, the soft tissues will be overwhelmed and and injury will follow.
3. Inflexibility of the Wrist - Much the same as the explanation of shoulder inflexibility. When the wrists are limited in their range of motion, it will add to the innapropriate and excessive motion at the elbow and injury will follow.
Beyond an orthopedic and range of motion testing to the immediate structures involved in the injury, the second aspect to look at is what predisposing factors are at play. Once found there would be a combination of:
1. Joint Manipulation to any joint restriction in the elbow or wrist (performed by a chiropractor)
2. Soft tissue Manipulation to any adhesion, scar tissue, or imbalances in the musculature surrounded the elbow. The treatment options involve Active Release Technique (ART), Graston Technique, Trigger point treatment, muscle energy techniques, etc.
3. Exercises aimed at retraining the movement and control of the body at the upper body, shoulder and elbow. Typically involving increasing the upper torso flexibility, shoulder flexibility and shoulder girdle control.