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BACK IN THE SWING: PT AND TENNIS ELBOW

Mar23rd 2017

Tennis elbow is one of the most common injuries that people sustain, but it doesn’t just happen to tennis players. Less than 5 percent of all tennis elbow injuries occur in people who don’t play tennis at all.

The term tennis elbow is often used to describe any injury that occurs as a result of someone using their elbow, wrist or hand in repetitive motions as part of their job, hobby or sports activities. Since the muscles and tendons in the hand, wrist, arm and forearm are interconnected with the elbow, a case of tennis elbow doesn’t even have to be the result of flexing the elbow.

From office workers and mechanics to musicians, anyone who performs the same type of motions over and over can experience the intense pain of tennis elbow. Men are more likely to develop the condition than women and it typically flares up in their 30s to 50s. Even children can develop tennis elbow.

The condition can be the result of actions over time or it can happen suddenly when an individual performs a forceful action that includes a pulling, swinging, lifting or twisting motion. Someone who has developed tennis elbow will have pain that can be more intense in the elbow or wrist and have difficulty grasping and holding objects.

Even holding a cup of coffee, gripping a fork to eat, or opening a door can result in intense pain. There will also be a lack of strength in the hand, wrist or forearm. It’s essential to have tennis elbow properly diagnosed to determine the extent of the damage

TAKING CARE OF TENNIS ELBOW

Care of the arm until an appointment with a physical therapist can be made is simple. Don’t try to power through a task or continue to play if the symptoms of tennis elbow are present. It can exacerbate the condition and result in more damage.

The affected arm should be rested and ice treatments applied every 10-20 minutes. It’s also helpful to support the injured arm and elbow by wrapping it with an elastic bandage to relieve pressure on the muscles and tendons.

Physical Therapy for tennis elbow is beneficial for:

  • Relieving pain
  • Reducing inflammation and swelling
  • Strengthening muscles and tendons
  • Reducing the risk of re-injury
  • Rehabilitation if surgery is required.

Resting the arm is essential until your physical therapist says it’s time to begin therapy. He/she will develop a plan of specialized exercises that help you maintain flexibility, range of motion, and strengthen tendons and muscles. Splints and counterforce braces may be used for stabilization and to distribute pressure throughout the area instead of just on the tendons.

Your physical therapist will teach you how to stretch your arm and warm up properly before engaging in activities. Ergonomic assessments and recommendations are available for ways to perform work and home tasks easier and more efficiently while you heal and to prevent re-injury.

Tennis elbow is a painful condition and your physical therapist has a variety of therapies that will help you heal, improve conditioning, and aid in reducing the risk of re-injuring the arm in the future. With the care of your physical therapist, you’ll heal quickly and prevent the injury from becoming a chronic condition.

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