Lateral Epicondylitis, aka Tennis Elbow, is a common overuse injury that occurs at the elbow. It is characterized by pain in the outside of the elbow (burning), typically with gripping activities of the hand. A common misconception of this condition is that it only happens in racquet sport athletes, but in fact, it is quite common in individuals that are doing any activity that involves repetitive use of the long muscles of the forearm and wrist. Individuals who sit at a computer all day typing, painters, butchers, and plumbers are some common people at risk to develop tennis elbow secondary to the repetitive nature of the activities.
The issue is typically caused by micro-tearing of the muscular tissues near their insertion sites on the elbow from repetitive trauma. This constant tearing can develop into a repetitive inflammatory process that is coined lateral epicondylitis. Reasons for developing this condition can be simply overuse, poor size of equipment (in racquet sports), or muscular imbalances of the elbow, wrist, and hand. Lateral elbow pain is also common with certain neck/shoulder injuries, so it is important to distinguish between the two.
Some TIPS for management of tennis elbow include first and foremost REST! The injury tends to be overuse in nature, so it will be important to avoid the pain causing activity and allow the body to heal. If you are a racquet athlete, have a professional size your racquet grip to avoid these type of injuries. If these tips do not help with the pain then it is time to call your local physical therapist. Physical Therapy is an excellent solution for tennis elbow. 4/5 of people who suffer from this condition will improve with conservative treatment.
A skilled Doctor of Physical Therapist will listen to you describe your condition and determine if you are appropriate for physical therapy or if you need referral to an appropriate physician based on severity of injury. Physical therapy will help address inflammation; range of motion deficits, and strength deficits associated with tennis elbow and get you back in the game. Don’t wait! Schedule a consultation today.