What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylosis, lateral tendinosis, or lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that involves tendons located around the outside of the elbow. These tendons, which anchor muscle to the bone, work to extend the wrist or fingers. Over time these tendons degenerate, weakening the attachment site and placing a strain on the muscles.
What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?
Patients complain of pain around the elbow, usually on the bony part just above the outside of the elbow called lateral epicondyle. The area may be tender to touch. Patients may report weakness and inability to perform their normal activities of daily living, such as lifting a cup of coffee.
What causes tennis elbow?
Many patients diagnosed with tennis elbow have never played tennis at all. Any activity, such as gripping or repeated grasping, can strain the tendon attachment to the lateral epicondyle. The most common age group is between 30-60 years old although it can occur in younger and older patients.
What is treatment for tennis elbow?
Conservative(nonsurgical) treatment through a physician can include anti-inflammatory medications and steroid injections into the painful area. A physician can also provide a referral to a qualified hand therapist. Surgery is often only considered if the pain is severe, and/or symptoms have been present for six months or longer.
What can a hand therapist do for me?
A hand therapist can provide conservative management for treatment of tennis elbow, with the goal to return the patient back to normal work, home and sports activities. A therapist can help identify what activities might aggravate symptoms, discuss activity modifications. Orthotics for the wrist may be recommended to rest the wrist extensors. Postural exercises are emphasized along with stretching and strengthening of shoulder, elbow wrist and hand. Modalities may be utilized such as heat, cold lasar, iontophoresis, ultrasound and massage.
A therapist also reviews activity modification for prevention of future injuries once lateral epicondylitis has resolved. If you are suffering from tennis elbow, please contact Recovery Physical Therapy today.