Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
a.k.a. Tennis Elbow
Lateral epicondylitis is a type of tendinopathy injury that’s often simply referred to as tennis elbow. We see this injury at MOTUS on a regular basis, as it is the most common overuse injury in the elbow and a frequent issue for all athletes, not just tennis players! In fact, only about 5% of tennis elbow cases actually come from playing tennis. Almost any repetitive action in the upper extremity can put repetitive strain on the extensor tendon, which can cause pain on the outside of the elbow.
Three bones come together to make the elbow joint: the radius and ulna in the forearm and the humerus in the upper arm. Lateral epicondyle refers to the bony part on the outside of the elbow, which is part of the humerus. The muscles, ligaments, and tendons are what hold the elbow joint together, and what allows you to extend your wrists, hands, and fingers.
Anyone who regularly performs repetitive motions with their hands and arms for work or hobbies can develop this particular tendinopathy. Strain on the tendons intensifies when the overuse is paired with regular contractions, so weightlifters and athletes in throwing sports and racquet sports are at higher risk.
If you pay attention to your body and how it feels, you can often spot tennis elbow early on, when pain tends to develop a few hours after activity. You’ll notice pain on the outside
of the elbow, which sometimes extends to the upper arm and forearm. The extensor muscle origin at the elbow will feel especially tender to touch.
As the condition worsens, the pain will come sooner after activity, until it’s present at the end of the activity, and finally during the activity. Pain is usually the worst afterwards. In the most severe cases, pain is present at all times, and flexibility and strength in the wrist and shoulder diminishes.
Recovering from tennis elbow can take anywhere from two weeks to two years. Forming and maintaining a rehabilitation plan is critical to decreasing pain and increasing function as quickly as possible.
At MOTUS, we have seen success in treating tennis elbow with tools like NMES, shockwave therapy, and blood flow restriction therapy. Once we have helped you manage pain from tennis elbow, we will put all of our focus on developing a plan for correcting the movements that caused the condition in the first place. Our goal is always to treat the body as a whole, and help you learn how to move and perform in a way that will fix the problem for the long term.