How to Treat Tennis Elbow

How to Treat Tennis Elbow

August 9, 2017

Lateral epicondylalgia, commonly known as “Tennis Elbow”, is a common source of pain amongst athletes, avid gym-goers, and those with jobs that require frequent use of their hands.

What is Tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is the result of an overuse injury of the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB). The ECRB is a muscle in the forearm that acts to extend the wrist and fingers. The extensor carpi radialis brevis attaches to the lateral epicondyle, which is the bony area on the outside of the elbow. The lateral epicondyle is typically where the pain is felt. Most people believe that the pain is due to inflammation but studies have not been able to show any chemical markers that indicate any inflammation is present. However, studies have been able to show that tissue degeneration occurs at the lateral epicondyle where the ECRB attaches.

What Causes Tennis Elbow?

As mentioned above tennis elbow typically results from repetitive movements that require extension of the wrist and gripping activities. Examples of other causes include:

  • Activities that require excessive gripping – the ideal position for a strong grip biases the wrist in extension which can cause overuse of the ECRB
  • Poor Technique – Racquet sports such as tennis require a whole body approach when hitting the ball (not just the arm) so when the body is not acting as a unit the elbow can take the brunt of the force.
  • Overload of New Activities – Starting a new job (construction worker)/hobby (painting)/sport (tennis) without preparing the body for the high amount of repetition and workload can cause early overuse.
  • Muscular Weakness/Lack of mobility – If muscles/joints do not have the flexibility/mobility/strength necessary to complete a particular movement then compensation must occur. Making sure the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder meet the necessary strength and mobility requirements is a good place to begin finding the true source of the problem.

How to Treat Tennis Elbow?

While some people will opt for surgery or injections that can be extremely costly and have lengthy recovery times others will have success with physical therapy.

A physical therapist can help treat tennis elbow by…

  • Reducing the pain level
  • Determining the source of pain
  • Restoring normal joint mechanics so that the elbow will experience decreased stress levels with activity
  • Improving strength of muscles in forearms along with the rest of the body so that the body can function as a unit (resulting in decreased stress and pain at elbow)
  • Teaching functional movement patterns so that the patient can move and perform with proper technique in novel situations

At Evans Physical Therapy & Sport Performance, LLC we focus on all of the areas mentioned above so that we can help you get back to doing what you love without pain! For more information please fill out the form below.

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