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  • Writer's pictureEmma Green, PT

Why does my shoulder and elbow hurt?

Tennis elbow and shoulder impingement are two common injuries that can cause pain and discomfort for individuals who engage in repetitive overhead motions or activities. While these injuries may seem unrelated, they can actually be connected in certain cases. In this blog post, we will discuss how tennis elbow and shoulder impingement are related and what you can do to prevent and treat these injuries.


First, let's define what tennis elbow and shoulder impingement are. Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that occurs when the tendon that attaches to the outside of the elbow become injured. This issue is often caused by repetitive motions, such as swinging a tennis racket, and can lead to pain and weakness in the forearm and wrist.


Shoulder impingement, on the other hand, occurs when the tendons and bursa in the shoulder become compressed or pinched between the bones of the shoulder. This can lead to pain, weakness, and limited range of motion in the shoulder. Shoulder impingement is also often caused by repetitive overhead motions, such as throwing a baseball or swimming, and can also be caused by poor posture or muscle imbalances.


So, how are these two injuries related? While they may seem like separate issues, tennis elbow and shoulder impingement can actually be connected through the kinetic chain. The kinetic chain refers to the interconnected system of joints, muscles, and bones that work together to produce movement in the arm.


In the case of tennis elbow and shoulder impingement, the kinetic chain can start with an issue in the wrist or forearm. If there is a problem with the tendons or muscles in the forearm, it can lead to compensations in the shoulder joint. This can cause the shoulder to move in a way that puts excessive stress on the tendons and bursa, leading to impingement.


Conversely, if there is an issue with the shoulder joint, it can cause compensations in the forearm and wrist. This can lead to increased stress on the tendon that attaches to the outside of the elbow, leading to tennis elbow.


So, what can you do to prevent and treat these injuries? The best way to prevent tennis elbow and shoulder impingement is to maintain good posture, strengthen the muscles that support the shoulder and elbow joints, and avoid repetitive motions or activities that put excessive stress on these areas. If you do experience pain or discomfort in the shoulder or elbow, it is important to seek medical attention and follow a treatment plan that may include physical therapy and relative rest.


In conclusion, tennis elbow and shoulder impingement may seem like separate injuries, but they can actually be related through the kinetic chain. By understanding the connection between these injuries and taking steps to prevent and treat them, you can stay active and pain-free.


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