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Tennis Elbow

Written by Dhara Shah, PT, DPT, OCS

Lateral elbow tendinopathy (previously termed tendonitis) or Tennis Elbow is a common overuse injury of the elbow and can affect daily and recreational activities. Typically, we see this type of injury in someone who is performing repetitive gripping and wrist movements. Activities such as typing, using a computer mouse, and grasping can overload the tendons on the outer part of your elbow. Notice that these activities are not just related to tennis! People who have never even picked up a racket can still get “tennis elbow”.


Tendon injuries can sometimes be pesky, and we want to make sure that you know the stages that go into the recovery process. 

 

  • Stop doing activities that make it worse! Activity Modifications include:
    • Decrease keyboard/mouse use
    • Limit grasping/gripping activities with the injured elbow, use the other hand to grab plates out of the cabinet or to grab a bag of groceries. 
    • When performing tasks, keep load close to the body, so you can utilize your core to help with the task versus keeping objects further away which creates a longer lever arm making it harder on your elbow.

 

  • Decrease inflammation:
    • Ice cup massage is a great way to isolate the ice to the intended tissues. Fill a foam or plastic cup with water and stick it in the freezer. Once the water is frozen, cut the top of the cup, so that ice is exposed. Take the cup and move it in a circular motion on the outside of your elbow for 5-10 minutes. 

 

  • Counterforce Brace
    • Research supports the use of counterforce braces early in the rehabilitation process to improve pain. The counterforce allows healing to the injured tendons. 

 

  • Gradual increase in isometric and resistance training.
    • Once pain is decreasing, we will introduce a gradual increase in isometric and resistance training. We continue to monitor your progress and symptoms as we move into this stage of your program.

 

  • Evaluation of  lower extremity mechanics:
    • We feel it is important to see if there is a breakdown in other areas of your body that are leading to increased stress to your elbow with certain activities, especially If you do play a sport that requires your arms and legs to work together, it is important that your legs and core are providing a stable base for your arm to function optimally.

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