SPONSORED: Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) Is Treatable at West Park Rehab

| October 21, 2021

Screenshot at Oct 18 18-21-57Most people who get tennis elbow don’t play tennis!

In fact, less than 5% of all tennis elbow cases occur in people who play tennis. Tennis elbow can happen to anyone who repeatedly uses their elbow, wrist, and hand for their job, sport, or hobby.

The physical therapists at West Park Rehab are movement experts who improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. West Park Rehab has been successfully treating lateral epicondylitis for over 20 years. Help is available.

You can request an appointment using this link: https://sites.webpt.com/1660/reactivation-offer.

Or, call our offices at Franklin: 814-437-6191 or Seneca 814-493-8631.

What Is Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)?

Tennis elbow is a painful condition caused by overuse of the “extensor” muscles in your arm and forearm, particularly where the tendons attach to rounded projections of bone (epicondyles) on the outside or lateral aspect of the elbow. The muscles you use to grip, twist, and carry objects with your hand all attach to the “lateral epicondyle” at the elbow. That’s why a movement of the wrist or hand can actually cause pain in the elbow.

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.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of tennis elbow can occur suddenly as a result of excessive use of the wrist and hand for activities that require force, such as lifting, twisting, or pulling. Forceful activities — like pulling strongly on a lawn mower starter cord — can injure the extensor muscle fibers and lead to a sudden onset of tennis elbow.

More commonly, though, symptoms of tennis elbow develop gradually over a period of weeks or months as a result of repeated or forceful use of the wrist, hand, and elbow. If you work as a grocery store cashier, you might have symptoms of tennis elbow as a result of repetitive (and often too forceful) typing — combined with continuous lifting of grocery bags.

Your symptoms may include:

· 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 Is It Diagnosed?

Tennis elbow usually occurs due to repeated movements. As a result, other muscles and joints in this region of the body may be affected as well. Your physical therapist will perform a careful examination not only of your elbow but of other areas of your body that might be affected and might be contributing to your pain.

Your therapist will perform special manual tests that help diagnose the problem and help detect conditions such as muscle weakness that might have led to the problem in the first place. For instance, the therapist might ask you to gently tense or stretch the sore muscles to identify the exact location of the problem.

Rarely is an x-ray required to diagnose this condition. But at West Park Rehab and Diagnostics, we can also perform a Musculoskeletal Ultrasound. This form of imaging can be used to visualize the exact location and size of tendon injury. And once treatment has been initiated, we can even perform a repeat Ultrasound scan to track the healing of the tendon.

“It’s one thing to describe what tendonitis or a tendon tear is to a patient, but it is an improved experience to actually show a patient their tendon and have them watch the healing process.”, Eddie St.Clair, Physical Therapist and Board Certified Hand Specialist at West Park Rehab and Diagnostics.

Beth Carr, DPT is the Musculoskeletal Fellow at West Park Rehab and Diagnostics who performs these tests at our Franklin office. These tests are covered by insurance and oftentimes do not need authorization.

And, they are exceptionally helpful when an MRI is not being authorized by the insurance.

Screenshot at Oct 18 18-22-23

How Can a Physical Therapist Help?

Improve Your Ability to Move

Your physical therapist may use manual therapy to enable your joints and muscles to move more freely with less pain.

Improve Your Strength

Insufficient muscle strength can lead to tennis elbow. Sometimes the weakness is in the muscles of the wrist and forearm. In many cases, the problem stems from weakness of the supporting postural, or “core,” muscles. In fact, you might find that it is necessary to improve your overall level of fitness to help manage your elbow condition. Based on the evaluation, your physical therapist can determine the type and amount of exercises that are right for you.

Physical therapists prescribe several types of exercises during recovery from tennis elbow:

· Early in the treatment, when the pain is most intense, your therapist may recommend passive exercises in which your wrist and elbow are moved without the use of your muscles. In addition, your therapist may recommend or fabricate a splint to protect the tendon while it is healing.

· As your symptoms improve, you can move the wrist and elbow actively without assistance.

· As the muscles become stronger and the symptoms have lessened, you will be able to begin using weights or resistance bands to further increase your strength. The amount of weight will need to be carefully monitored to make sure you continue to progress and avoid re-injuring your muscles.

Use Your Muscles the Right Way

Your physical therapist can help you retrain your muscles so that you use them properly. For example, when you lift a heavy grocery bag, you should contract the muscles around your shoulder blade and trunk to provide support for your arm muscles. This simple movement can be easily taught to you by a physical therapist can lessen the stress to the injured muscles and help you return to your normal activities while avoiding re-injury.

Return to Your Activities

Your physical therapist will help you remain active by teaching you how to modify your daily activities to avoid pain and further injury. Sometimes it’s necessary to make changes at work, on the playing field, or in the home. Your physical therapist can help you make simple modifications to your work site, your computer set-up, your kitchen devices, your sports equipment, and even your gardening tools to lessen the strain to your hand, wrist, and forearm. Your therapist will emphasize the importance of taking stretch breaks so that your muscles get frequent rest from repetitive movements and standing or sitting in the same position.

Tennis may be a contributing factor to tennis elbow for several reasons. Sometimes the problem results from over-training. In other cases, the weight of the racquet or its grip may need to be adjusted. For others, the problem may stem from improper form, poor overall fitness, or a lack of strength in the supporting or “core” muscles of the trunk and shoulder blades. A physical therapist can help analyze the source of the problem and help find a solution.

West Park Rehab has been successfully lateral epicondylitis for over 20 years. Help is available.

You can request an appointment using this link: https://sites.webpt.com/1660/reactivation-offer.

Or – call our offices in Franklin: 814-437-6191 or Seneca 814-493-8631.


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