While small, our elbows have a major impact on our quality of life. Even the slightest amount of elbow pain can alter our daily activities, work, and even our recreation. This pain may sometimes even develop as a result of these activities. One condition that may develop is called tennis elbow.
If you are in pain, do not hesitate to seek treatment. Our expert physical therapists at Paspa Physical Therapy have many years of experience and can assist you on your road to recovery. We are conveniently located in New York City. Schedule an appointment with us today!
In the meantime, below, you will find some basic information regarding what tennis elbow is, the symptoms to look for, available treatments, and more.
Anatomy of the Elbow
The elbow is a complex joint that connects the arm to the forearm. It is made up of three main bones: the humerus, which is the upper arm bone, and the radius and ulna, which are the two bones of the forearm.
These bones are held together by a network of ligaments and muscles, which allows for a wide range of movement at the joint. The elbow also contains several important nerves and blood vessels, which can be vulnerable to injury if the joint is damaged.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a painful condition characterized by inflammation or small tears in the tendons and muscles on the outer part of the elbow. Despite its name, tennis elbow can affect anyone who regularly performs activities requiring repetitive forearm and wrist movement, such as typing, painting, carpentry, or playing ract sports like pickleball.
Lateral epicondylitis typically affects your dominant side. However, depending on the type of activities you engage in, it can affect both of your elbows.
Tennis Elbow Causes
Tennis elbow is caused by overuse of the arm and forearm muscles, leading to small tears in the tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle (the bony bump on the outer part of the elbow).
Repeated motions, such as swinging a tennis racket (a racquet sport), playing other racquet sports, or using a computer mouse for extended periods of time, can put stress on the tendons of your forearm muscles, causing them to become inflamed and painful.
Other activities, such as gardening, landscaping, or playing certain musical instruments, can also contribute to the development of tennis elbow. Sometimes, a sudden injury can also cause tennis elbow.
Signs and Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
The following are some of the symptoms and signs that may be associated with tennis elbow:
- Discomfort or pain on the outer part of the elbow joint (where your elbow bends)
- Pain that worsens when gripping or lifting objects
- Weakness or stiffness in the affected arm
- Discomfort or pain when fully extending the forearm
- Increased sensitivity to touch near the affected area
- Swelling or inflammation
It is essential to see a medical professional if you are experiencing persistent arm pain or discomfort in the elbow region, as certain treatments—such as therapy or medications—may be necessary to help alleviate your symptoms and reduce pain.
How is Tennis Elbow Diagnosed?
Tennis elbow will usually be diagnosed based on the symptoms reported by the patient, as well as a physical examination conducted by a medical professional. Be sure to inform your doctor if you have a history of nerve disease or rheumatoid arthritis.
Your physician may also conduct various tests to isolate the painful area to rule out any other possible causes of pain and examine the bones, ligaments, and tendons surrounding the elbow joint. These tests may include an:
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
If a diagnosis of lateral epicondylitis is confirmed, your specialist will let you know which treatment or combination of treatments would be best for your needs.
How is Tennis Elbow Treated?
Tennis elbow is usually treated with a combination of the following non-surgical treatment. Success rates of non-surgical treatments can be as high as 95%.
Some of the non-surgical treatments are as follows:
- Rest: The first thing to do is stop the exercise or movements that cause pain
- Ice: An ice pack can be used to reduce swelling
- Bracing (counterforce brace): This will reduce the strain exercised on your forearm muscles.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist can give you specific to strengthen the muscles of your forearm. They may also perform ice massage, ultrasound, or muscle-stimulation techniques to improve muscle healing.
- Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce pain and swelling.
Extracorporeal shock wave therapy can also be used to treat tennis elbow. This is an ultrasound-guided technique that sends sound waves to damaged tissues in the elbow to break up scar tissue and promote healing.
Severe cases may require steroid injections or surgery. It’s important to consult with a medical professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, as the severity of the condition can vary.
When is Tennis Elbow Surgery Needed?
In general, surgery is not the first line of treatment for lateral epicondylitis. However, if non-surgical treatments have been tried and have not provided significant relief, tennis elbow surgery may be recommended by a doctor.
In these cases, surgery is typically performed to remove damaged tissue or to repair the tendon. It is important to speak with your doctor if you are experiencing persistent symptoms of tennis elbow to determine the best treatment plan for your specific case.
Why Choose Paspa Physical Therapy for Tennis Elbow Treatment?
You should choose Paspa Physical Therapy for help with your tennis elbow discomfort because our team of therapists has many years of experience in treating this condition and other closely related sports injuries. We offer one-on-one personalized care and do not hire aides or trainers to render the treatment of a physical therapist. We also have a full gym and private rooms for additional privacy.
If you would like private, personalized, high-quality care, then this is the place for you. If you are experiencing the painful symptoms of tennis elbow, schedule an appointment at Paspa Physical Therapy in Manhattan, NY today!