What is Tennis Elbow and how can it be treated?
Lateral (outside) elbow pain is a common overuse condition that affects 1-3% of the general population and up to 15% of workers that requires repetitive gripping. In most cases, people suffering from this condition will have tenderness along the outside of the elbow and will often have significant pain and discomfort with extension of the wrist or fingers or gripping objects. It is often referred to as “tennis elbow,” as it is a common condition in people that participate in the sport, but is found in many other professions as well.
The lateral epicondyle, or the outside of the elbow, is an attachment point for several muscles that extend the elbow, wrist and fingers. When a person experiences lateral epicondylalgia, they are actually experiencing a tendinosis, or chronic irritation, of the tendon of one or more of these muscles. Often, they have recently increased the intensity or frequency of activities such as work or exercise. Because of the frequency in which people use their wrist hand and elbow throughout the day, it can sometimes be a difficult condition to rest and treat.
People with lateral epicondylalgia may be treated in multiple ways. A physician may utilize an injection or prescribe medication to treat the symptoms. They also often refer the patient to physical therapy. Physical therapy may consist of many different techniques that may include mobilization of the wrist, hand or elbow, massage, strengthening, stretching, ultrasound or other techniques. Sometimes there may be other factors involved, including tightness or weakness through the upper back, leading to someone attempting to overuse their elbow, wrist or hand. This should also be evaluated by your physical therapist to make sure all of the causes of the symptoms are being addressed. Sometimes your physician or physical therapist may suggest the short-term use of an elbow brace to address symptoms. The underlying causes should still be evaluated and treated, or symptoms will likely recur.
If you are experiencing elbow pain with gripping or moving the elbow, wrist, or hand, check with your physician so you can begin the process toward recovery.
The author of this article is Lauren Hogan, PT, DPT, ATC from Athletico – Andersonville.