Lateral Epicondylitis – “Tennis Elbow”
Lateral Epicondylitis, more commonly known as Tennis Elbow, is one of the most frequently treated types of arm injury. Despite its name, most Tennis Elbow cases develop from work or everyday activity. Tasks or activities that involve high repetitions of the same movement with the elbow and forearm, as well as lifting or moving heavy objects in an awkward manner, can cause the condition to develop.
In Lateral Epicondylitis, microscopic tears can occur in the tendon where the forearm extensor muscles attached to the bone (lateral epicondyle). These tears can bleed and scarring can develop, causing the elbow to become inflamed and creating a source of significant pain.
The pain associated with Tennis Elbow is typically described as an intense burning sensation on the bony prominence of the outside elbow. Pain may or may not extend down into the forearm and hand. This pain is generally worse with activity, especially during activities when lifting and carrying objects with the elbow extended, forearm pronated (palm down), and wrist flexed. Resistive gripping and pinching as well as pushing and pulling can increase the pain. If left untreated, the pain from Tennis Elbow can become extremely debilitating.
To minimize the force placed on the inflamed tendons, counterforce bracing is encouraged when performing activities that aggravate the condition.
Although resting the elbow may enable the condition to improve in milder cases, medical treatment is usually required in more serious cases. Your physician may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or a cortisone injection to relieve the pain. However, a comprehensive rehabilitation program that includes focused stretching, strengthening, and conditioning is usually prescribed to treat the root causes of Tennis Elbow.
Therapy can be used to provide pain relief and restore range of motion, strength, and function to the elbow region. A variety of modalities can be utilized to minimize pain and increase blood flow to the inflamed area, which promotes the growth of healthy muscle tissue. A comprehensive program should provide pain relief and enable the individual to return to normal activities.
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