You might be surprised to visit your doctor for elbow pain, only to be diagnosed with something called tennis elbow – when you don’t even play tennis! That’s because tennis elbow is the term for a type of elbow condition that, while common among tennis players, can affect all types of people. The official medical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis and refers to a specific set of tendons on the outside of your elbow that can become aggravated and cause you pain due to overuse. If you notice pain on the outside of your elbow that radiates into your forearms or wrists then your doctor may recommend physiotherapy.
Causes of Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is an injury that occurs from overuse of the muscles and tendons in your forearm that connect to your elbow often resulting in tendon pain. When you use your forearm muscles repeatedly, like when twisting or picking something up, it puts stress on the tissues. The stress on your muscles from these repetitive motions can cause muscle strain and even tiny tears. Tennis elbow got its name from overuse and poor technique in racquet sports, particularly with the backhand stroke. Other sports and activities can lead to tennis elbow when they involve repetitive arm motions. There are also certain occupations where people may be more prone to developing tennis elbow due to repetitive motions required, like plumbers and carpenters. Repetitive wrist and forearm motions in these occupations without sufficient rest in between can lead to overuse and the development of tennis elbow.
Treatments for Tennis Elbow
While it is possible for tennis elbow to go away on its own, this often involves stopping the activity that is causing the elbow pain. With certain occupations and those who want to continue participating in recreational sports and activities, merely choosing to not participate in these motions is not an option. In these types of cases, there are treatments available to help manage pain, improve your strength and flexibility, and promote more stability in your forearm, elbow, and wrist.
Here are three examples of treatment options for tennis elbow:
1. At-Home Remedies
At-home remedies for tennis elbow are usually a person’s first step at managing tennis elbow pain. In some mild cases of tennis elbow, at-home remedies can help soothe the pain, at least temporarily. The most effective form of treatment once you develop tennis elbow is to rest the affected area. For example, if you participated in a tennis match earlier in the day then the first thing you should do when you get home is take some time to rest your arms and avoid any activities that may cause further stress or strain. Taking time to rest properly gives your body a chance to reduce any swelling that may have occurred. While you rest, you may also want to ice the affected area. Ice therapy helps to temporarily alleviate pain and reduce swelling in the area. If you notice your muscles and joints feel stiff afterward, you might also alternate ice therapy with heat therapy, which will soothe any stiffness and aching.
Searching for a “physical therapist near me” can help address the source of your tennis elbow pain so you can experience more lasting pain relief. Your physiotherapy treatment plan will likely incorporate a combination of stretches, exercises, and therapeutic massage to get at the root cause of your pain and even prevent tennis elbow in the future. Physiotherapy stretches will help promote healthy circulation to the area while also easing your muscles through movements to help improve flexibility, strength, and coordination. Physiotherapy exercises also work to strengthen the muscles in your forearms that can become damaged due to repetitive motions and overuse. Strengthening your forearms and wrists will help offer your elbow more stability when performing these repetitive tasks or activities. Your physical therapist will also want to assess your grip and wrist strength, which can weaken due to tennis elbow.
3. Adjust Your Technique
Whether you’re a tennis star or not, your physical therapist can talk to you about ways to improve your technique when performing these motions that can lead to tennis elbow. If you tend to develop tennis elbow on the job due to the type of mobility that’s required then your physical therapist can help. There are ways to be proactive about your tennis elbow so you can avoid aggravating your forearm muscles and tendons that are causing you pain.
AICA Orthopedics offers physiotherapy for a range of conditions, injuries, and illnesses across metro Atlanta. Visit one of our locations today and learn more about how our team of physical therapists can help you experience lasting pain relief from your tennis elbow.