Tennis Elbow – So Much More than Tennis

March 13, 2015 in STSMPT

Tennis elbow refers to a repetitive use disorder causing recurring pain on the outside of the elbow. While this condition is all too familiar to experienced tennis players, the majority of cases actually seem to be work related. Additionally, this painful and sometimes debilitating elbow condition has been connected with many activities:

  • Using a screw driver
  • Excessive hand shaking
  • Increased use of garden shears
  • Painting
  • Repetitive lifting
  • Brick laying
  • Hammering
  • Typing
  • Golf
  • Swimming
  • Pitching
  • Tennis
  • Other racquet sports
  • And other similar activities

The technical name for this condition is lateral epicondylalgia (which literally means pain over the bony spot on the outside of your elbow). The medical term for this condition was formerly lateral epicondylitis, but that term is technically wrong. Lateral epicondylitis means inflammation over the bony spot on the outside of your elbow. However, there is a growing understanding of this condition showing that it is not really inflammation related. A more accurate description of the condition would be to say that the body’s natural process of healing and rebuilding is not keeping up with the demands of the given activity.

This new understanding also has treatment implications. Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylalgia) is not a simple inflammation that can be chased away with anti-inflammatories such as aspirin. Masking the pain can be asking for trouble. The pain of tennis elbow is telling the worker, athlete, and gardener that the tendons in the area are not keeping up, and a problem is growing.

While individualized treatment will be determined by numerous variables, we can help develop a healthy and safe plan to improve the conditioning of the involved structures so that you can safely and effectively return to your desired activities. Treatment may include:

  • Stretching, strengthening, and conditioning of the upper extremities
  • Splinting / strapping
  • Pain relief and spasm reduction modalities
  • Manual therapy
  • Consultation regarding equipment modification
  • Consultation regarding athletic & work technique improvements

Tennis Elbow

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