All About Tennis Elbow

What is Tennis Elbow?

It is a painful condition caused by overuse of the forearm and wrist muscles due to repeated grasping, lifting and manipulation of objects. The muscles used to lift, twist and manipulate objects are called the ‘ forearm extensors’ and are attached on the bony projection on the outer aspect of the elbow called the ‘lateral epicondyle’. Thus any excessive movements / use of the forearm and wrist can cause pain in the elbow causing Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis).

Prolonged use of the wrist and hand, such as when using a computer or operating machinery —and, of course, playing tennis with an improper grip or technique—can lead to tennis elbow. It can happen to athletes, non-athletes, children, and adults. It occurs more often in men than women, and most commonly affects people between the ages of 30 and 50.

What does Tennis Elbow happen ?

If the forearm extensor muscles get hurt by a sudden lifting of heavy object or forceful playing in sport of tennis – patient will have a sharp localized pain on the outer aspect of the elbow.

However in most cases, Tennis Elbow develops gradually secondary to repetitive use of forearm, wrist and hand over a period of weeks and /or months. For example, if you are working in a deli, you will be doing repeated lifting of grocery bags and working with the register – this can irritate the ‘forearm extensor’ muscles leading to Tennis Elbow.

What kind of aches do it get?

  • Pain that radiates into your forearm and wrist
  • Difficulty doing common tasks, such as turning a doorknob or holding a coffee cup
  • Difficulty with gripping activities
  • Increased pain when you use your wrist and hand for lifting objects, opening a jar, or gripping something tightly, such as a knife and fork
  • Stiffness in the elbow
  • Weakness in the forearm, wrist, or hand

How can Physical Therapy help?

  • Relieve pain through use of physical modalities such as Clinical Ultrasound, low level laser, interferential current therapy, ice pack – all of which help you avoid excessive use of harmful opioids and invasive procedures such as injections and surgeries.
  • Restore strength: weak and stiff muscles due to pain can cause significant loss of function. Physical therapists can teach you the right movements and stretches to restore strength and length of muscles affected by Tennis Elbow.
  • Manual Therapy; to stretch tight structures and get rid of soft tissue tightness which develops due to long standing ache and improper use of the muscles involved.
  • Restore function: restore ability to lift objects and twist a jar open without pain and restore your ability to participate in recreational and sport activities such as playing tennis again.

How is Dynamic Physical Therapy different in treating your Tennis Elbow?

  • MSKUS: Musculoskeletal Ultrasound is the most advanced technology used by the US Army and professional sports team. This MSKUS technology is available at Dynamic Physical Therapy to help us identify the scope and severity of your tennis elbow problem. Thus we can device a unique, individualized exercise protocol which is focused to get you back on a path of faster recovery.
  • Our licensed physical therapy staff implement advanced manual techniques to relieve pain and provide one on one therapy to resolve tennis elbow.

TIPS to prevent / care for tennis elbow:

  • When you are hurt: REST your muscles. Please understand, if you resume physical activity prematurely, there is a high risk of re injury and the whole cycle gets repeated.
  • Ice – apply ice , especially after playing tennis or any other repetitive physical activity involving the forearm and wrist/hand muscles.
  • Stretch – especially before aggressive physical activity / sport: gentle stretching of the forearm muscles while keeping elbow reasonably straight, palm facing downwards and bending the wrist gently will help you prepare the muscles and avoid injury.
  • Strengthening : your core and shoulder muscles will help you avoid excessive strain on elbow-forearm and wrist muscles
  • Movement analysis of your work related / sport related activities by our licensed physical therapists – will help you identify the stressors before you get hurt.
  • Accurate understanding of your condition ; can happen with advanced technology called the MSKUS – musculoskeletal ultrasound.

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