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The Causes and Treatment for Tennis Elbow

Have you ever reached for something and felt a sharp, searing pain on the outside part of your elbow? If so, you could be experiencing Lateral epicondylitis or better known as Tennis Elbow.

“I don’t play tennis!” you protest. Many of our patients facing Tennis Elbow don’t play tennis either. Lateral epicondylitis is a common condition that impacts simple actions like reaching and picking up a ball.

Understanding the Elbow

Tennis Elbow involves the muscles and specifically the tendons of the wrist extensors. The tendon is leatherlike and does not stretch very much, but it enables the more elastic muscle to transmit force to the bone and cause movement. In some ways, it is a poor design to have all of the muscles needed to generate a forceful grip attached to the same little bony prominence or the Lateral Epicondyle.

When you reach to grasp an object, you must move your wrist into an extended position, stressing the extensor muscles. Excess use of the muscles can put more stress on the tendon and cause damage where it attaches to the bone. When examined under a microscope, the damaged tendon looks like a fraying rope due to the micro tears of the individual tendon fibers.

Temporary Treatment for Elbow Pain

The RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) principle can be used to treat acute pain. Ice is the most beneficial at reducing pain by slowing down the inflammation process. If someone rests for a period of time, his pain usually reduces, and he can resume daily activities. Unfortunately, the healing process of the tendon is not sufficient to prevent a reoccurrence of the symptoms because the new tendon tissue is aligned in a way that a “weak patch” is formed.

Many people continue to “plow ahead” and perform the exact activity that caused the problem in the first place. When the pain gets bad enough and limits their ability to perform daily activities, they seek medical attention. Consequently most of the patients that we see at ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute have dealt with their symptoms for several weeks or months.

Healing Tennis Elbow

Physical Therapists are trained to help develop an exercise routine and perform specialized hands-on techniques that will speed up the healing process, help develop new tendon tissue that is aligned properly, and help create a very “strong patch.” With proper treatment, symptoms can be resolved and won’t return.

Tennis Elbow is very common and does not discriminate against anyone. If the wrist extensor muscles are used excessively, there is a good chance that the symptoms of Tennis Elbow will develop. ACE Physical Therapists are well trained to deal with these symptoms and will initiate a treatment program that will enable the patient to return to their activities pain-free.

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