DID YOU KNOW?
Tennis actually only accounts for about 5% of lateral epicondylitis cases, also known as Tennis Elbow. It is usually a degenerative process of the wrist extensor tendons from overuse, as opposed to an acute inflammatory process.1 Golfer’s Elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is a similar overuse injury affecting the wrist flexor tendons.
It is important to get proper treatment initiated as soon as possible since the tendons do not have a good blood supply. If left untreated, epicondylitis may become chronic and last for months or even years. This is especially true if treatment is focused only on relieving pain and not on correcting the muscle weaknesses or habits that may have led to the condition.2
Tennis or golf may be a contributing factor to epicondylitis for several reasons. Sometimes the problem results from over-training. In other cases, the weight of the racquet or its grip may need to be adjusted. For others, the problem may stem from improper form, impaired range of motion in hips and trunk, or a lack of strength in the supporting or "core" muscles of the trunk and shoulder blades, which places undue stress on the forearm.
PHYSICAL THERAPY TREATMENT:
- Pain management: ice, heat, soft tissue mobilization techniques and modalities, such as iontophoresis, ultrasound and electrical stimulation
- Activity modification to avoid pain and further injury – including work site, kitchen, gardening and sports equipment modifications – taping/bracing or splinting if needed
- Manual Therapy: joint mobilization, soft-tissue massage, and elbow, forearm, and wrist stretches to help regain full movement of not only the wrist and elbow, but the shoulder, spine and hips as well
- Strengthening Exercises: including shoulder, scapular and core musculature
- Patient Education: Adjustments made in golf swing, throwing techniques, or work tasks can help reduce pressure placed on the tendons in the forearm region.
- Functional Training: Retraining of proper body mechanics to stabilize the scapular and trunk muscles to provide support for the arm during specific movement patterns.