Have you started noticing a strange, tingling pain in your elbow that tends to flare up with certain activities? You may not be a tennis superstar, or even play tennis, but your doctor may diagnose you with tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is the term for a type of condition that is common among tennis players but can also affect others who participate in regular activities or behaviors that put excessive stress on your elbows. The official term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis because of a set of tendons along the outside of your elbow that can become aggravated and inflamed due to overuse. If you are experiencing pain along the outside of your elbow when you participate in a specific sport, activity, or movement within your occupation, your doctor may recommend physiotherapy for pain management and relief.
Understanding Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is a type of overuse injury that occurs when the muscles and tendons that connect your forearm to your elbow become irritated by repetitive motions. Even simple motions like twisting your arm repeatedly while using a screwdriver or picking something up off the floor can put stress on these soft tissues in your arm. When the muscles in your elbows experience this type of repetitive stress it can lead to muscle strain and even tiny tears in the muscles themselves. Tennis elbow actually got its name because of the commonly used backstroke technique in tennis, which engages the muscles and tendons along the outside of the elbow. However, these same soft tissues can also be affected by certain occupations where repetitive arm, elbow, and wrist movements are common, like in plumbing and carpentry.
Effective Treatment Options
While you may be tempted to wait for tennis elbow to go away on its own, this may only temporarily relieve you from elbow pain if you are going to participate in those same activities or repetitive movements again. The worst thing you can do for tennis elbow is to try to push through the pain, which can lead to more serious injuries to your muscles and tendons. Physiotherapy can help provide you with an arsenal of effective options to help manage the pain and even alleviate it altogether.
1. At-Home Remedies
At-home remedies are usually the first step you might take to managing tennis elbow pain on your own. You may try over-the-counter pain medications, which may help mask the pain symptoms temporarily. However, in order to experience more lasting relief from the pain, it helps to address the aggravated and overworked muscles and tendons. The best thing you can do for these soft tissues is to give yourself time to rest and avoid activities that may exacerbate the pain. Resting your arms and elbows will give your body a chance to naturally reduce any swelling and restore nutrients to the area. Applying ice will also help with swelling and easing pain, while alternating with applying heat will help soothe aching muscles as well.
2. Adjusting Your Technique
Talk to your physiotherapist or even a personal trainer about how to adjust and improve your technique if your tennis elbow is caused by your participation in a sport or activity. A physical therapist can talk you through specific movements and explain when and where the pressure and stress occur, so you can better understand how your body is affected by these repetitive motions. Practicing proper technique can help you avoid movements that may have caused tennis elbow in the first place. Your physical therapist can help you practice techniques that will allow you to be more proactive and avoid aggravating your forearm muscles and tendons that lead to tennis elbow.
3. Physiotherapy Techniques
Your physical therapist knows what affects your body’s ability to heal. They can also walk you through a variety of physiotherapy techniques that can help address both short-term and long-term pain from tennis elbow. This will likely involve a combination of stretches and exercises to help strengthen your muscles and provide more stability and support to your elbow joint. Stretches and exercises also promote healthy circulation, which brings oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the area. Your physical therapist may also assess your wrist and grip strength, which can become weakened when you are dealing with tennis elbow. Therapeutic massage can also help restore healthy flow and functioning to the area, while also providing relief to your sore muscles.
Visit AICA Orthopedics in Jonesboro for physiotherapy on a variety of overuse injuries including tennis elbow. Our team of physical therapists works alongside orthopedists, chiropractors, and neurologists all in one convenient location so you can get quality treatment and care for any type of illness or injury.