Sports Rehabilitation for tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is not only seen with tennis players but in many occupations where there is repetitive stress on the elbow and forearm. This condition is more commonly seen in hairstylists, electricians, plumbers, contractors and data entry.
Lateral epicondylitis is an inflammation or irritation of the prominent bone on the outside of the elbow. This bone is known as the lateral epicondyle.
Associated with tennis elbow is increased sensitivity of the tendon that attaches into the lateral epicondyle and elbow/forearm weakness. Here we will discuss the sports rehabilitation to remedy this condition and prevention.
Upon palpation of the lateral epicondyle there is severe tenderness. There is increased pain of the proximal forearm extensor muscle coinciding with tightness and weakness. When resistance is applied to the wrist and finger extensors pain is noted along the lateral aspect of elbow. Simple activities as shaking hands or opening a door is difficult. Hand and wrist weakness is evident.
Sports Rehabilitation or physical therapy usually starts with the patient. With the onset of acute pain ice applications should be daily a few times per day. The patient can also start taking anti-inflammatory medication or opt to have a cortisone injection. Resting the area and utilizing an elbow brace for support in the early stages is recommended.
Physical therapy modalities such as electrical stimulation, ultra sound and cold laser treatments are very helpful. These modalities reduce the inflammation to the lateral epicondyle quicker so the sports rehabilitation specialist can advance the treatment.
Massage therapy and myofacial release should be done so has to breakdown any scar tissue formation around the lateral epicondyle.
The physical therapist will demonstrate proper stretching techniques for the extensor forearm and wrist musculature. A progressive resistive exercise program will be implemented to strengthen the elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. It is very important to start the program using light weights so as not to overload the weak areas.
The best prevention is to have your sports rehabilitation specialist write up a home program of stretching and strengthening to be performed on a daily basis. Ice applications should be applied at the end of a day especially if you work in an occupation where the elbow and forearm is overworked. Changing positions at work using better ergonomic strategies and devices is extremely important. As far as tennis players are concerned making sure your grip size and string tension is correct will decrease the chances of tennis elbow. Proper technique hitting the tennis ball (forehand or backhand) should be checked by a tennis professional.
Tennis elbow is not the same in every patient so don’t get overly concerned if your condition is responding differently from others. Healing time varies and may occur in a few weeks or months. Having a qualified sports rehabilitation expert is the way to remedy and prevent the ailment from returning.