Tennis elbow, or what we call in the biz “lateral epicondylitis,” is characterized by pain on the outside portion of the elbow. Although it’s common in tennis players anyone can get tennis elbow especially people who use their hands a lot, i.e. golfers, rock climbers, handymen (and women), etc. It’s essentially a type of tendinitis that is the result of overuse.
Traditional treatment approaches involve supportive bands or sleeves, NSAIDs, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery.
A couple things can lead to the development of tennis elbow. As mentioned above overuse is a big one. One less addressed issue that is equally if not more important is mechanics. How are you swinging the tennis racket or golf club? Is your form good? Is your shoulder weak and putting excess stress on your elbow? What about your wrist? If any of the traditional treatment approaches are successful at reducing pain but mechanics are not addressed there is a good chance the pain will return.
It’s important to put out the fire (pain), but we must fix what caused the fire (mechanics).
Below is a video of an exercise we use to restore proper shoulder function to take stress off the elbow.
Fix what caused the fire:
a. Strengthen the tendon. Tendon pain happens because the strength of the tendon cannot match the stress being put on it. This is why the "rest and wait" method does not work.
b. Improve mechanics. This will be different for everyone. Areas that can affect the elbow are the hips, core, shoulder, neck, and wrist.
Modify activity. Rarely do we have to tell someone to completely stop what they're doing. There is a sweet spot between complete rest and going all-out where recovery can happen but where you can continue doing the things you love. We work together to find that sweet spot.
Not all elbow pain is the same. Treatment should involve an individualized approach that addresses the root cause of the complaint. Don't let pain hold you back from what you love doing.
Let us help you bounce back pain free!