Tennis elbow: Do I have it and what can I do about it?

Lateral Epicondylitis: Elbow pain

How do I know if I have it?

The symptoms include:

  1. Pain on and above the outside of your elbow when you press on it.
  2. Pain with resistance of wrist, index and middle finger extension.
  3. Pain with gripping.

These symptoms are very painful and limiting for many tasks including typing, manual work and playing tennis, many other sports and anything you need to grip which is a whole lot of things if you think about it. 

What is actually causing the pain?

Most commonly, the symptoms are caused by tendon degeneration of the extensor carpi radialis brevis tendon of ECRB. The ECRB merges with the lateral collateral ligament of the elbow that affects the annular ligament of the proximal radioulnar joint. The entire wrist extensor group becomes involved at the elbow and wrist.

Ok, so I have these symptoms, what do I do? 

Well, unfortunately, not everything works for everyone but here is the breakdown. If you choose to do nothing, 83-90% of people report a great deal of improvement in symptoms but aren't always 100% better in ONE YEAR. Many patients have recurrent symptoms that fluctuate in severity depending on activity levels. 5% of people do not respond to conservative interventions and end up having surgery. You need to see your doctor and he will discuss oral medication and injection options as each have pros and cons depending on your symptoms. 

Start Physical Therapy

There are several techniques that can help speed up your recovery includig dry needling, manual therapy and joint mobilizations, instrumented assisted soft tissue techniques, kinesiotaping, McConnell Taping, exercises and modalities. Your therapist will also give you ergonomic strategies to modify your workstation and tasks that aggravate your symptoms to help you give your tendon the rest that it needs. Some examples of ergonomic strategies may be moving your mouse to the opposite side, using dictation instead of constant typing on the computer, bracing suggestions, what exercises to avoid at the gym and they will work with you to modify or restructure any activity that you are having difficulty with. They will also give you a home exercise program to continue your progress on days you are not in therapy.

Rest from activities that cause pain and Be Patient! These symptoms will take time to heal, several weeks at best. Give your body the time it needs.

Remember, the sooner you get started, the sooner you will be pain free!

The Orthopedic Center is here to help and can be reached online at www.nolasportsmedince.com or by phone 504-889-2663.

 

Author
Amelia Embley MPT Amelia completed her Masters of Physical Therapy at LSUHSC-New Orleans. Her specialties include kinesiotaping, dry needling, Graston technique, manual therapy, cupping, SFMA, FMS and ART of the spine.

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