Tennis elbow, also knows as lateral epicondylalgia, results in pain on the outside of the elbow, where the elbow meets the forearm. The pain is often felt as a dull ache and can range from moderate to severe. Occasionally this injury co-exists with nerve irritation so the person suffering from lateral epicondylalgia can also have tingling and numbness in the back of the forearm, hand and first 3 digits.
What Causes Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is a repetitive strain injury which can and does occur in people that don’t play tennis. It it seen in about 3% of the population but less than 5% of cases are caused by tennis. Repetitive arm motion can cause tears in either the supinator or the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscles. These tears cause inflammation and can become a chronic condition if left untreated.
Any repetitive strain injury where the wrist extensors are overused can result in tennis elbow. Loggers, painters, carpenters, butchers and assembly line workers are all potentially at risk for this injury. Golfer’s elbow is a similar injury, with the pain located on the inside rather than the outside of the elbow.
Pain that is often described as an ache is usually limited to the outside of the elbow and wrist area, unless the radial nerve is involved, which is when you may find altered sensation along the path of that nerve. Without treatment or correction of the repetitive action causing the injury the pain can over time develop into a chronic condition, with sufferers having difficulty gripping and lifting items.
Tennis elbow is condition that requires activity modification and work on the patient’s behalf. It can linger on for quite a while if not managed appropriately and if the demands of your job or hobby require you to use these muscles often, recovery time can take even longer. Typically recovery takes 12 weeks to heal, but everyone is different.
How Apex Can Help
This condition is usually managed conservatively with ice, rest, activity modification, stretching, physical therapy and, if necessary, an elbow brace. Our therapists are well versed in the stages of healing. Once the inflammation has settled it is then okay to begin stretching and isometric strengthening, progressing as tolerated. Out clinic is unique in that it offers Shockwave therapy for cases where pain is persisting even with traditional treatments. Shockwave therapy has been shown to have a very high success rate in treating tennis elbow.