T Nation

Medial Epicondylitis

I’m 54, been lifting about 18 months. Nothing crazy. Sort of a mix between free weights and HS machines. 3x/week. Just lately I’ve developed a pretty good case of ME in both elbows L>R. I think it started because of the HS preacher curl machine. I started doing 21’s, three sets with 90 seconds rest between sets. Great for the biceps, but I think this is the culprit. I’ve been lifting and ignoring the pain, but I know that’s a bad idea.

Any thoughts on treatments? Should I take some time off or just stop training arms? It also hurts when I do any horizontal pulling exercises. Thanks.

I’d stop everything until you figure out how much damage you’ve done. I ignored it for a couple months last summer, a year later it’s not totally gone yet but I’m at least back to the majority of lifts now. Do some searches on here, lot’s of good stuff, I know I have a couple threads I rambled my ass off in about this. In summary, look into possible PT, a theraband flex-bar, some kind of supplement maybe, a tennis/golf elbow brace, sleeping with a carpel tunnel brace, and voodoo floss. The last two are what seemed to really get me over the last plateau. Hope it’s still in the tendonitis stage, best of luck.

Thanks! It kills me to think about taking a break from the gym. Just a bit more info. I lifted two days ago. Chest and arms. During and afterwards the pain was moderate. The next day, I’d say symptoms were 50% better. Two days later it’s 90% better. So I can’t imagine I’ve done too much damage.

I’m gonna look into all of your suggestions.

First, I’m never going to use the HS preacher curl machine again. It was great for killing the biceps, but I’m 99% sure that’s what aggravated my elbows.

Would going very light be an alternative to a long break from lifting?

Yeah, it’ll take some trial and error to see what aggravates it. Are you feeling it outside of working out much (like pushing with an open palm, turning door handles, showering/toweling)? If it is medial epicondylitis you’ll want to avoid anything that taxes your grip too. There’s an article on here, “fix your tendonitis” or something like that where they detail a recovery program that does include some light/slow curls. It’s a tough thing to balance, sometimes pain can be acceptable and you can still improve through it, but if it’s still actually damaging the tendon it’s just exponentially delaying the healing. For me, it seemed like as long as what I was doing wasn’t causing ANY pain RIGHT THEN, I was still improving through it. Some aches and pains the following day (low not severe) seemed to be acceptable. When I think back to when I was ignoring it, there were some days when I’d give it a few reps (once you get circulation going it can subside and make you think everything’s ok), or I’d just go straight through some mild to shooting pain. That’s why it’s still not 100%.

On Sunday, it hurt even just gripping the bar or picking up dumbells. It wasn’t terrible, but it was the reason I stopped each set. For the rest of the day, everyday activities like opening a door or pouring a gallon of milk hurt. But the symptoms resolved quickly and I’m a lot better two days later. I decided to take the rest of this week off and try using lighter weights and higher reps. I’ll also do more machines and fewer free weights and see how that goes. Really sucks!

Well if you’re improving a few days later that’s at least a good sign. Sounds like you’ve got the right idea, if it persists look up some of the things I listed above, and maybe use straps for a little while. For some reason thick grip bars make mine feel better too. Remember “really sucks” is extremely relative, don’t end up sacrificing 6 months to gain a couple weeks.

I will heed your advice. I plan to be very cautious. If I have any discomfort I’ll stop and try again in a few days.

Been there and there is no quick fix. Grrr.
Stopped curling. Especially with a bar.
Lots of massages for blood flow.
OT said to ice for 10-15 minutes 3 x day to encourage blood flow.
As it got better:

  1. Flossed
  2. Reduced the weight. (Only use DB NOW.)
  3. Sloow eccentric and concentric moves.
  4. Gelatin powder in my whey

We grow muscle quicker than tendons due the reduced blood flow to the tendons.
Hope your injury is lighter than mine, as it was very frustrating.
Now trying to get back where I was.