Elbow Pain: where is it coming from?


Elbow pain, usually diagnosed as “Golfer’s” or “Tennis elbow”, is often a tricky condition to overcome for patients.

The general thought process in mainstream medicine, is that overuse activities like golf, tennis, weight-lifting, mouse work, and manual labor causes degeneration/inflammation of the tendons of the elbow which can cause lingering achy pain.

Typical approaches to treatment may include: stretching, strengthening, as well as passive care like dry needling, massage and in extreme cases even things like braces and steroid injections.

Often times, a person’s elbow pain can linger from months to years, getting irritated over and over again, leading to frustration on the part of the patient and the clinician.

Why is this condition so difficult to treat?

In our experience, it’s not the elbow pain itself that is difficult to treat, but more so that elbow pain is often mis-diagnosed and thus mis-treated.

In our experience, it’s not the elbow pain itself that is difficult to treat, but more so that elbow pain is often mis-diagnosed and thus mis-treated.


  1. Does your pain change with sitting positions or changes in posture?
  2. Does your pain change when you twist, bend, or move your spine?
  3. Do you have equal and full range of motion in both elbows?
  4. Do you have the presence of numbness or tingling in the affected arm?
  5. Is your pain in the middle of your forearm rather than at the elbow specifically?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your elbow pain may be coming from your SPINE!

At Lakeside, our doctors are highly-trained in McKenzie Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy  (MDT), which is a method of properly diagnosing a patient’s symptoms and understanding where their pain is coming from without the need for imaging and endless visits and treatment.

If you are experiencing elbow pain, one of our providers will conduct a full exam of your spine to rule in/out whether or not this is the cause of your elbow pain. If your elbow pain is coming from the spine then the proper neck or upper back exercises will be prescribed which will begin to reduce the elbow symptoms and heal the spinal dysfunction. Treatment plans for elbow plan are typically less than 8 appointments total and have an extremely high success rate.

If your elbow pain is actually coming from the elbow itself, we will determine the best movement based exercises and soft tissue work that will work the fastest to heal your injury. True “tennis elbow” can take up to 12 months to heal on it’s own, but with the correct therapy we can reduce symptoms in weeks.

Things to take away from this post:

  • Elbow pain can come from issues with the elbow joint, the muscles and tendons that surround the joint or the cervical/thoracic spine.
  • Elbow pain is often mis-diagnoised in conventional medicine and physical therapy. 
  • If your elbow pain is coming from your spine, being treated by a qualified MDT provider allows for fast and lasting reduction of pain and symptoms with underlying prevention taught at the end of care. 
  • Contact Lakeside if you or anyone you know is experiencing elbow pain, we are here to help! 

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