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Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is a prevalent injury that occurs in the elbow joint. As a result, inflammation and pain set in, leading to a reduced range of motion.

Scientists refer to this condition as Lateral Epicondylitis and believe it’s the result of repetitive stress on the elbow joint.

Since the lateral (i.e., outside) region of the elbow inflicts damage, most patients report pain on that side.

On this page, we will cover the causes, symptoms, and available treatments of tennis elbow. We will also discuss the role of chiropractic care in addressing this injury.

What causes Tennis Elbow?

A tendon is a thick layer of tissue that connects a muscle to a bone. In your forearm, the tendons connect these muscles to the lateral side of your elbow.

Unfortunately, the repetitive stress that these tendons endure causes microscopic tears. As a result, patients experience swelling, pain, and redness of the elbow.

By far, the most affected tendons are the ones that connect the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis muscle to the elbow bone.

Activities that may trigger tennis elbow include:

  • Playing tennis or Paddle
  • Golfing
  • Swimming
  • The frequent use of hammers, screwdrivers, or keyboards

How is it different from Golfer’s Elbow?

The primary difference between tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow is the location of the injury. In tennis elbow, the lateral epicondyle tendon gets injured. Conversely, the medial epicondyle tendon is damaged in Golfer’s elbow.

While we call tennis elbow lateral epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow is known in the medical field as medial epicondylitis.

Additionally, the location of the pain in these two conditions is different. The pain of golfer’s elbow is in the inner side of the articulation and radiates down the arm. You may even experience some numbness and tingling.

Finally, golfers are prone to developing tennis elbow, and tennis players can get golfer’s elbow.

What are the symptoms of Tennis Elbow?

Similar to other types of injuries, the severity of tennis elbow symptoms varies from one individual to another. Additionally, not all symptoms may occur at once.

With that said, here are some common signs and symptoms of tennis elbow:

  • Persistent elbow pain that worsens with time
  • Feeling pain in the outer side of the forearm and wrist
  • Pain when shaking someone’s hand or squeezing an object
  • A weak grip

The treatment options for Tennis Elbow

According to reports, 80–95% of tennis elbow cases undergo spontaneous healing (i.e., without the need for complex surgical procedures).

To treat this condition, your Chiropractor may suggest the following approaches:

Rest – Allowing your elbow to rest is the most effective treatment for tennis elbow. After all, inflammation requires some time before it fully subsides. Your doctor may use braces to immobilize the joints and muscles, which will accelerate your recovery.

Using ice packs – Applying cold packs to the site of inflammation can significantly reduce your symptoms.

Chiropractic care – Strengthening the muscles of your forearms can promote healing. Chiropractic care uses exercises, massage therapy, cryotherapy, shockwave therapy, stretches, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, scraping, cupping, and other techniques to aid in the recovery of the muscles.

Chiropractic care and tennis elbow

Similar to other musculoskeletal injuries, Spine & Sport Center can significantly improve the outcome of patients with tennis elbow. The modalities used in our field will accelerate recovery and help with joint mobility and chronic pain.

Depending on your case and the severity of your symptoms, your chiropractor may decide that one treatment is more suited than others. The chiropractor may have to try several treatments before finding the best one for your specific condition.

In this section, we will cover several chiropractic treatments that may help with tennis elbow:

1.      Fascial stretch therapy

Regular stretching exercises are crucial to maintain a healthy musculoskeletal system and improve symptoms of tennis elbow. According to research, regular stretching improves physical strength and prevents strains and sprains.

For those unfamiliar with this fascial stretch therapy, here is a quick definition:

Fascia is a fibrous connective tissue that covers the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. As a result, working on these structures will give you a sense of rejuvenation and relaxation.

Initially, the idea of fascia stretch therapy was proposed by Ann Frederick, a flexibility expert, who worked with athletes at the Olympics to enhance their performance and accelerate recovery.

2.      Thermotherapy (heat therapy)

Heat therapy is a technique that uses high temperatures to treat tennis elbow and other injuries.

Regardless of the heat source, applying thermotherapy expands blood vessels (i.e., vasodilation), which improves blood flow to your elbow joint.

Consequently, substances that are responsible for pain (e.g., prostaglandins) get circulated away, relieving your pain.

Furthermore, thermotherapy promotes muscle relaxation and reduces joint stiffness.

3.      Cryotherapy (cold therapy)

Cold therapy, or cryotherapy, uses cold to treat musculoskeletal injuries. Unlike thermotherapy, however, cryotherapy slows everything down around the injury to improve your symptoms.

Cold therapy is ideal to reduce swelling and improve pain in patients with tennis elbow.

You should be careful not to apply the cold source directly to your skin since it could cause many complications. Preferably, use a thin towel to act as an insulator between the cold compress and your skin.

Takeaway message

Tennis elbow is a very prevalent condition, especially in people who regularly engage in tennis or golfing.

Hopefully, this article highlighted the main aspects of tennis elbow, including its causes, symptoms, treatments, and the role of chiropractic care in fixing this issue.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding tennis elbow, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section below or reach out to us by clicking on this link.