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Different Tennis Elbow Treatment Options
First, you may wonder why it is called tennis elbow. Similar to golfer's elbow, the tendons of the muscles affected are used a lot in tennis which led to the common name of “tennis elbow.”
This is however not limited to tennis players.
Not long ago, we had a client dealing with pain around the forearm and elbow which clearly indicated an inflammation due to repetitive movement of the elbow. Important to mention that he is a plumber by trade. It is quite common to diagnose tennis elbow with plumber, painters, general contractors and office workers using computer mouse all day.
Our physiotherapist proceeded with an assessment which lead to a treatment plan involving some stretching and strengthening exercises along with some treatment modalities to reduce the inflammation and the pain. After 2 weeks, he felt much better and was able to return to his activities.
It is important to mention that it can take longer sometimes. It really depends on the level of injury and if you are making sure to follow the recovery steps, which we are going to talk about in a moment.
What is Tennis Elbow and Why Does it Matter?
There are three bones that make up your elbow joint:
Medically known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow pain stems from the lateral epicondyle which is the bony bump on the outside of the elbow. The ECRB (extensor carpi radialis brevis) muscle and tendon is usually involved in tennis elbow. Muscles, ligaments, and tendons hold the elbow joint together. Hope this make sense
How does tennis elbow occur?
Any repetitive activity that involves those muscles can cause this type of strain. Most cases aren’t actually related to tennis. Developing tennis elbow often relates to the way that a worker carries out an activity. It could be related to too much.
- Reaching, and moving
- Lifting, or throwing
These activities can aggravate elbow pain when it is:
- In fixed or awkward position
- With constant repetition
- With sudden force or sudden impact
What does tennis elbow feel like?
The main symptom of tennis elbow is tenderness and pain at the lateral epicondyle of the elbow.
Common signs include:
- Pain or burning on the outer part of your elbow
- You may have tightness and soreness in the forearm
- Redness or swelling
Speaking to a physiotherapist about your elbow pain will help confirm whether you have tennis elbow. Once they have determined your diagnosis, they will guide you to fix tennis elbow!
How to Fix Tennis Elbow in 5 Steps
1. Give yourself (a.k.a. your elbow) a break!
Easier said than done! The simple step of avoiding activities that aggravate your elbow pain will be helpful. By giving your elbow a break, this will give it time to heal and you might start to feel better. This doesn’t mean you’ll need to stop forever but this will prevent any additional irritation and strain on your tendons!(insert related image)
2. Reduce Inflammation
As mentioned above, tennis elbow pain stems from inflamed tendons attached at the lateral epicondyle. Ice can be helpful in reducing inflammation. Physiotherapists may use modalities such as ultrasound, laser or acupuncture to help decrease inflammation.
3. Modify and Adapt Your Activity
Gripping is commonly an issue when it comes to tennis elbow pain. While not all activities can be avoided, some can be adapted. An easy modification is to change the size of the item you are gripping. This could be a racquet, a paint brush, a tool or even a pencil!
4. Stretch and strengthen the muscles
Exercises to stretch and strengthen your wrist and forearm muscles can be a big help in preventing tennis elbow. There's also plenty you can do throughout your day to lessen strain on your arms. Below is a set of exercises you can do.
- Bend the elbow at a right angle.
- Extend the hand outwards, palm facing up.
- Twist the wrist around gradually, until the palm is facing down.
- Hold the position for 5 seconds.
- Repeat nine more times.
- Do two more sets of 10 repetitions.
5. Physiotherapy treatment
Physiotherapy can assess the healing process, restore the elbow to its highest level of function, and assist the worker in returning to work. Our physiotherapists can recommend a treatment plan to get reduce or eliminate the pain and the inflammation. You will learn some exercises as well as ways to modify and adapt the activities that may have caused you to have Tennis Elbow.
Tennis elbow pain is common and there is a way to fix this. Try to be mindful of the activities you do and when you are in pain, remember to stop! Ensure you are able to complete stretches and strengthening exercises without pain.
Our physiotherapy clinic in Burlington can assist you all along if need be. Our physiotherapists will be able to advise you about the best course of action for dealing with your tennis elbow symptoms. They will be able to determine whether the symptoms you are experiencing are a result of overuse or injury to your lateral epicondyle. In order to get the maximum recovery from your injury, your physiotherapist will provide you with a good treatment plan that you can follow faithfully. Many people find that physiotherapy combined with stretching and exercise helps them get back to their normal daily activities quickly.