People complain about tennis elbow that bothers them even though they’ve tried many different things around the elbow to get relief. They usually don’t talk about the shoulder problem until asked. For tennis players, when asked, they will often reveal that the elbow pain is worse when serving as this muscle helps to lift the shoulder to serve. They often see the shoulder as some typical soreness that they don’t worry about.
When asked, they may talk about the other symptoms and causes related to supraspinatus like a shoulder that clicks and pain in the shoulder when reaching to brush their teeth, injury from a pulling dog etc. When the primary complaint is the pain deep in the shoulder, the therapist usually assesses it quickly and, with treatment, the secondary focus of elbow pain goes away as well.
There are not a lot of great home care options for this other than to avoid carrying heavy objects. Once the joint has been freed and the trigger point that lies deep in the top of the shoulder has been released, gentle stretching as shown on the right, especially under a hot shower, helps. It’s uncommon to get this to release by just stretching. You’ve probably already iced the elbow exhaustively – it is time to ice the top of the shoulder.
This pain pattern comes from supraspinatus, a rotator cuff muscle that straps across the top of the scapula. It secures the head of the humerus in place while helping to abduct the arm(move it away from the trunk). It is thought of as being more involved in fine tuning the movement of the arm that being a prime mover of the arm.
This pattern is unusual but can be the critical piece to solving lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow).
Click on these categories to see if there is a referral pattern that better describes your concerns.
Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients.
He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.