Tennis elbow, lateral epicondylalgia, lateral epicondylitis: what are these conditions?? Are they different? Are they related? Are they the same thing stated in different words? Tennis elbow, lateral epicondylalgia, and lateral epicondylitis are all different terms for the same condition; which is a painful condition on the top of the forearm and at the bony prominence on the outside of your elbow. But what is this condition and what is causing the pain??
Tennis elbow is a breakdown of the muscle tendon unit in the extensor group of your forearm, think: the muscles you use to rev a motorcycle.
It is generally caused by an increase in training or work of some form using the extensor muscles of the forearm that your body has not been used to; or repetitive use from a chosen recreational activity or job function. Think: your glorious backhand on the court or using a screwdriver. The tendons properties are disrupted and there is an ingrowth of new nerves that are now sending painful signals to your brain when you are doing those activities or using your arm for activities that didn’t used to hurt.
But what is this condition and what is causing the pain??
Signs of Tennis Elbow:
- Pain along the top of the forearm and the bony prominence on the outside of your elbow
- Pain that worsens with gripping
- Pain with using your mouse or typing
- Loss of grip strength
- Aching of the forearm muscles
- Morning stiffness and aches of outside of the elbow and forearm
The condition generally worsens if left untreated and can last for a few years when ignored or the irritating stimulus isn’t modified. Not to fret though! There are a variety of treatments and interventions that can be undertaken to improve and eliminate the condition!!
Self management treatments:
- Over the counter anti-inflammatories/pain relievers (Aleve, Tylenol, etc.)
- Activity/work modification
- Soft tissue work
Physical Therapy interventions:
- Soft tissue mobilization
- Joint mobilization
- Rehab program including: stretching, strengthening, bio mechanical modification, nervous system desensitization
- Corticosteroid injection
There are a variety of treatments and interventions that can be undertaken to improve and eliminate the condition!!
Tennis elbow is a completely treatable condition and I personally do not think things need to go as far as surgical intervention, except in possible extreme cases. As with most neuromusculoskeletal conditions, Tennis elbow, is faster to recover from if the condition has not been going on for a long time (less than one month) but can be treated with conservative management (physical therapy) anywhere along the timeline that you may be experiencing it; from three months to years down the line.
Don’t let yourself struggle with something that is easily taken care of if it’s nipped in the bud!
As always, I hope this helps! If you have any questions or would like to read about certain topics, send us an email at TeamSP@SportsPerformancePT.com.
– Dr. Nick Schroeder, PT, DPT
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