Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain around the outside of the elbow. Clinically known as lateral epicondylitis, this painful condition occurs due to inflammation of the tendons that join the muscles of the forearm to the outside of the elbow. It is caused by repetitive motions or strenuous overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm, near the elbow joint. Pain management specialists in multi-specialty healthcare centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer a wide variety of non-surgical treatment modalities to relieve the pain caused by this musculoskeletal condition.
Generally, tennis elbow occurs among people in the age group of 30 to 50 years. The most common symptom associated with the condition is a burning pain on the outside of elbow, which can radiate in to forearm and wrist. Other symptoms include –
- Wrist weakness
- Chronic pain when lifting or bending the arm
- Difficulty in extending the forearm fully
- Pain when gripping, lifting and carrying
- Tenderness outside the elbow
In most cases, the symptoms may make it difficult for people even to shake hands, turn a door knob, or lift or bend the arm or twist the forearm. The pain and discomfort can last for weeks, months, and even years if not addressed.
Diagnosing and Treating Elbow Pain
To diagnose this condition, the pain management doctor will ask the patient to move the elbow, wrist and fingers in various ways to identify where the pain occurs. The physician may also use X-ray or other imaging tests to identify the root cause of the pain.
The type of treatment for this condition will depend on the severity of symptoms. The main non-surgical treatment modalities available to treat tennis elbow are –
- Chiropractic care – Chiropractic treatment helps restore the normal alignment of the elbow joint. It improves joint flexibility and reduces inflammation, and helps the damaged tendons to heal more quickly.
- Physical therapy (PT) exercises – PT for tennis elbow involves gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to strengthen the muscles of the forearm. Patients are generally advised to perform these workouts about 3-5 times a day.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) – TENS uses a low-voltage electric stimulation that interacts with the sensory nervous system to eliminate pain.
- Ice and heat application – Ice packs helps to lower inflammation and heat packs provides muscle relaxation.
- Game Ready Cold Compression Therapy – This involves the application of controlled cold therapy and intermittent compression to promote healing.
- Anti-inflammatory medications – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin are prescribed to alleviate inflammation and pain.
For those suffering from tennis elbow, the first step towards recovery is to give the arm proper rest. Patients need to strictly avoid physical activities that cause strain to the affected muscles and tendons. It is important to completely avoid sports activities or other manual tasks such as lifting for several weeks. This will help in better pain management and allow the damaged tendons to heal more quickly.