- Have you got elbow pain?
- Do you play tennis?
- Is your job repetitive?
- Are you at a PC for long periods of time?
- Do you have elbow pain when opening jars or using scissors?
With the Australian Tennis Open upon us, you may feel inspired to pull out the old tennis racket.
Beware, however, of tennis elbow. And it’s not always related to playing tennis!
Tennis elbow is a condition that needs to be properly diagnosed so that it can be accurately managed.
So let’s first talk about what Tennis elbow is NOT!
Tennis elbow is NOT pained on the inside of your elbow, that’s golfers elbow a topic for another article.
Tennis elbow is NOT paining on the front side of your elbow, that’s most likely a bicep strain injury.
Tennis elbow is inflammation and possible damage to the common extensor tendon. Your extensors are located on the back of your arm and bring your wrist into the backward position. There are a number of these muscles and they share a common origin, called the common extensor tendon. This attaches to the outside of the elbow.
This attachment can become chronically inflamed, irritated and potentially damaged with repetitive over-use as in using a mouse or playing tennis.
Tennis elbow can be acute and transient or chronic and long term. You may have heard of RSI or repetitive strain syndrome affecting the wrist. This is the elbow version.
If micro-tears have developed in the tendon management becomes much harder. This is usually the case with long term, chronic cases and is definitely diagnosed with diagnostic ultrasound.
Dr. Andrew Arnold says, ‘Your Sports Chiropractor is well positioned to help you diagnose, treat and manage tennis elbow.’
- The joint needs to be working properly. This requires specific mobilization and manipulations.
- The muscles needs to reset and repaired. Your Chiropractor may refer you to a Myotherapist to help here.
- You need to be shown how to stretch and exercise the elbow in a way that promotes healing and doesn’t cause more problems. We recommend holding your arm outstretched in front of you and bringing your hand back in an extended position. It is preferable to do this rapidly, say 10x, at least morning and evening. We also recommend using an elastic band and doing finger extensions, i.e. spreading your fingers with resistance.
- You may need to use a tennis elbow splint. Please consult your health professional to obtain the right support and know how and when to use it.
- Apply a cream, such as diflam, fisiocream, Magnesium cream to the affected area 2x day.
- Apply ice to the affected area each evening for 3x 2minutes.
- Use a TENS machine, under professional supervision.
- Other treatment options include Acupuncture, dry needling and Ultra-wave shock therapy.
If you get on top of tennis elbow early prognosis is good however, chronic cases can be very frustrating to manage.
About the Author:
Dr. Andrew Arnold is the Principal Chiropractor and owner, Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Centre, married to Dr. Linda Wilson, the Stress Specialist and has two children, Isaac and Bella. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.