Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) - Physical Therapy
Lateral epicondylitis, most commonly referred to as Tennis Elbow, is a painful, inflammatory condition of the elbow caused from overuse. The nick-name of this condition comes from the common cause of tightly gripping a tennis racket combined with the force of hitting a ball. However, much more commonly today we see this same condition arise from computer users due to using a mouse and keyboard.
The muscles affected by Tennis Elbow are a group known as the wrist extensors that connect the lateral elbow to the wrist and hand. These muscles make up the area of the forearm and repetitively contract when lifting our wrist and fingers to click a mouse and type on a keyboard. These muscles are also over-active during manual activities such as gripping and twisting when using a hammer, screwdriver, or similar tools.
Causes of Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Lateral Epicondylitis may result from a combination of several different factors:
• Overuse of the forearm muscles
• Excessive keyboard typing or mouse clicking
• Excessive gripping and twisting
• Decreased flexibility in the wrist and hand
• Decreased stability in the shoulder rotator cuff muscles
How Does Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) Feel?
Tenderness to digital pressure in the elbow or forearm muscles
Deep, dull, achy pain in the elbow or forearm when at rest
Sharp, localized pain at the lateral elbow when in use
Potential for numbness or tingling down the arm into the hand or fingers
How Can I Prevent Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)?
You can help prevent Tennis Elbow by trying to avoid overusing your arm, wrist and hand. If you have a profession where you are asked to use your wrist and hand often, remember to take breaks at least once an hour and gently stretch your wrist and forearm. There are also numerous strengthening exercises you can do to promote stability at the shoulder, elbow and wrist to help prevent injury. A physical therapist can help instruct you in proper technique for these exercises.
Treatment for Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
If you feel you are already suffering from these symptoms, a chiropractor and physical therapist are the perfect people to help treat your condition. Treatment will involve gentle stretching and deep tissue massage of the forearm muscles, as well as eccentric strengthening exercises for the wrist extensor muscles. Trigger Point Dry Needling, kinesiotaping, and Class IV Laser Therapy have also been proven very effective in treating this condition as well.
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