Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that occurs when the tendons on the outside of the elbow become inflamed or damaged.

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Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
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Your Guide to Understanding Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

What is Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)?

Tennis elbow, medically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common condition characterized by pain and inflammation in the outer part of the elbow. Despite its name, tennis elbow is not limited to tennis players. It can affect anyone who engages in activities involving repetitive motions of the wrist and arm, such as painting, typing, gardening, or playing certain musical instruments.

The condition typically occurs due to an overuse injury, where repeated stress and strain on the tendons that attach to the outside of the elbow lead to small tears and inflammation. The main culprit behind tennis elbow is the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle, which helps stabilize the wrist during gripping and lifting movements. When this muscle becomes overloaded, it puts excessive strain on the tendon, resulting in pain and discomfort.

How can Chiropractic help treat Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)?

Chiropractic services offer a unique approach to alleviate tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis. Chiropractors focus on identifying and addressing the underlying causes of the condition, such as joint dysfunctions or muscle imbalances. Through manual adjustments, chiropractors realign the affected joints, reducing stress and tension on the tendons.

They may also use techniques like soft tissue therapy, such as Graston or trigger point therapy, to break up scar tissue and promote healing in the affected area. Additionally, chiropractors provide exercises and stretches to improve flexibility, strength, and overall function of the elbow. By taking a comprehensive approach, chiropractic care can effectively alleviate pain and promote recovery from tennis elbow.

What causes Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)?

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is typically caused by repetitive movements and overuse of the muscles and tendons in the forearm. The condition commonly occurs when these tendons, which attach to the outer part of the elbow, become strained or damaged.

Activities that involve repetitive wrist and arm movements, such as playing tennis, painting, typing, gardening, or using certain tools, can contribute to the development of tennis elbow. The repeated stress and strain placed on the tendons can lead to small tears and inflammation.

What treatments might help Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)?

Treatment for tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, aims to reduce pain, promote healing, and restore function. Here are some common approaches that can help improve this condition:

  • Rest and Modification of Activities: Giving your affected arm and elbow adequate rest is crucial. Avoid activities that exacerbate the pain or put strain on the tendon. Modifying your technique or using proper equipment when engaging in repetitive motions can also help prevent further injury.
  • Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Topical analgesics or ice packs applied to the affected area can also provide temporary relief.
  • Physical Therapy: Working with a physiotherapist can be beneficial. They can guide you through specific exercises to strengthen the forearm muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance overall joint function. They may also use techniques such as ultrasound, massage, or electrical stimulation to promote healing.
  • Brace or Splint: Wearing an elbow brace or splint can provide support and help alleviate stress on the tendons. It can be particularly useful during activities that may worsen the condition.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: In some cases, a healthcare professional may recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. However, these injections are typically used sparingly due to potential side effects.
  • Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT): This non-invasive treatment method uses high-energy sound waves to stimulate healing and reduce pain.
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy: PRP therapy involves injecting a concentrated solution of your own platelets into the affected area to promote tissue regeneration and healing.</p>

Signs of Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis):

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, can be identified by the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pain: The most common symptom is pain on the outside of the elbow. It may worsen when you grip an object, shake hands, or perform activities that involve wrist extension.
  • Tenderness: The outer part of the elbow may feel tender to the touch, indicating inflammation and irritation of the tendons.
  • Weakness: You may experience weakness in your grip strength, making it difficult to hold objects or perform tasks that require forearm strength.
  • Stiffness: The elbow joint may feel stiff, making it challenging to fully straighten or flex the arm.
  • Radiating pain: In some cases, the pain may radiate down the forearm or even to the wrist, making movements involving the wrist and hand uncomfortable.

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis):

The symptoms of tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, include:

  • Pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow: You may experience pain that starts at the bony bump on the outer side of the elbow (the lateral epicondyle) and radiates down the forearm.
  • Pain worsens with certain movements: Activities like gripping objects, twisting the forearm, lifting, or even simple tasks like shaking hands can aggravate the pain in your elbow.
  • Weakness in grip strength: You might notice a decrease in your ability to grip objects firmly. This weakness can make it challenging to perform daily tasks or activities that require a strong grip.
  • Stiffness and difficulty with arm movements: The elbow joint may feel stiff, and you may have difficulty fully straightening or bending your arm, reducing your range of motion.
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When is the right time to see a Chiropractor for Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)?

The right time to see a chiropractor for tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is typically when you experience persistent pain or discomfort in your elbow that affects your daily activities or limits your range of motion. If home remedies such as rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medications do not provide significant relief, it may be beneficial to seek professional help.

It is also advisable to consult with a healthcare professional if the pain worsens, becomes severe, or if you notice swelling, redness, or signs of infection around the affected area. Additionally, if the pain persists for more than a few weeks or begins to interfere with your ability to perform regular tasks or participate in activities you enjoy, seeking professional advice is recommended.

Meet our Lead Chiropractor

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Chiropractor

Doctor of Chiropractic from New York Chiropractic College

Dr. Brett enjoys working with active individuals looking to reach the next level and also anyone who is trying to incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives.

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Physiotherapist Brittany Pereira working with client at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic Mississauga
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