An introduction to tennis elbow – otherwise known as Lateral Epicondylitis:
When it comes to your health, you must monitor it regularly. This is especially the case when you’re a high-level athlete or someone with a labor-intensive job. The harder you perform, the easier it is to injure yourself with something such as lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow).
Here are some things to know about lateral epicondylitis.
What Is Lateral Epicondylitis?
Lateral epicondylitis aka tennis elbow happens when your tendons swell after bending your wrist backward away from your palm. The tendon is a strong cord of tissue that connects the muscles to the bones. When it comes to tennis elbow, the tendon that’s the culprit is typically the extensor carpi radialis brevis.
This injury often happens in both men and women from ages 30-50. After you get this type of injury, it may be wise to get physical therapy immediately. Even though this happens more commonly in athletes, it can happen to the everyday person who’s physically active.
Some of the causes of tennis elbow in athletes include:
- Improper hand backstroke
- Weak shoulder and wrist
- Hitting the ball off-center on the racket or hitting heavy
This injury can also occur for the everyday worker. You’ll see tennis elbow in people that do heavy labor:
- Operating a chain saw
- Painting with a brush or roller
- Repeated hand motions in dentistry and carpentry
Signs and Symptoms of the Injury:
You should always look out for different signs and symptoms to help you better find out if this is the specific injury that’s happened to you. Here are some of the signs:
- Feeling a burning sensation along the outside of your forearm and elbow
- Pain can get down to your wrist at rest
- Having an ache when you try to lift and grip small objects
When you start feeling these symptoms, speak with a health care provider to help you out with the diagnosis.
There are some key ways that doctors find out whether or not you have tennis elbow:
- X-ray to see if there are any signs of arthritis in your elbow
- A deeper magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) process helps show your tendons and the amount of damage. Even further the MRI of your neck shows if you’re having problems in the neck or any disk problems that may be a result of spinal damage that could be the cause of your arm pain.
- Also, you can take electromyography (EMG) of your elbow to measure nerve damage.
While it’s important to avoid the movement that triggered the injury in the first place, having good treatment can help you get things in order. Here’s what type of treatment will take place:
- Resting and stopping the activity that caused the injury
- Decrease inflammation by using ice packs
- Using anti-inflammatory medicines
In more serious cases, you may need to speak to a healthcare provider about physical therapy to help you in the process.
Here are some of the more common methods:
Therapeutic exercise – these are rehab exercises that you can do in the clinic or at home with machines and different degrees of resistance.
Cryotherapy – use ice and cold packs to for pain management.
Ultrasound Therapy – helps to speed up the healing process and uses sound waves to increase cellular activitiy within the effected tendon.
To truly regain mobility in the area affected, have a good plan of home-based exercising and stretching.
Hold a tennis ball or rubber ball in your hands and squeeze and release it up to 20 times.
Perform the activity 3 times a day. If you feel any pain, you can always use rolled-up socks to knock off some pressure.
In this exercise, you touch your fingers to your thumb while putting a rubber band around them. Slowly open your thumb and fingers all the way, then close them.
Repeat at least 20 times and do this exercise 3 times a day. You can always use two rubber bands to increase the difficulty as you go through your sports therapy.
Early treatment advised
It’s important to identify this injury early so that it doesn’t get worse overtime.
It’s an inconvenience because you’ll find that even lifting your daily coffee mug can start to cause discomfort.
Talk to your healthcare provider, such as a Physical Therapist, Physiotherapist or Sports Therapist, to help you get the right treatment.
By Dr. John Mullen,
World-renowned expert and speaker in sports training and rehabilitation.
Dr. John Mullen, DPT is a World-renowned expert and speaker in sports training and rehabilitation. He received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy at USC, where he performed research on strength training and rehabilitation. Dr. John has worked with over 30 Olympic and Professional athletes, helping them earn over 15 Olympic medals. To find out more visit – https://www.trainingcor.com/