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Tennis Elbow! But I don't even play tennis?

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that causes pain and inflammation on the outer part of the elbow. It is typically caused by overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle, a bony protrusion on the outer part of the elbow.

(picture elbow pain)

The two main tendons affected by tennis elbow are:

  1. Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB) Tendon: This tendon helps stabilize the wrist joint and is involved in movements that require wrist extension, such as lifting and gripping.

  2. Extensor Digitorum Communis (EDC) Tendon: This tendon is responsible for extending the fingers and is engaged when making a fist or gripping objects.

Repetitive or overuse movements that involve these tendons, such as gripping a tennis racket during backhand strokes, can lead to microscopic tears and inflammation in the tendon fibers. This inflammation causes the characteristic pain and tenderness experienced in tennis elbow.

However despite its name, tennis elbow can occur for anyone woh engages in activities that involve repetitive wrist extension and gripping motions.

Warning Signs and Symptoms

Common symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, weakness in the forearm, and a burning sensation in the affected area. You will experience some of the following symptom patterns:

  1. Pain on the Outside of the Elbow: The primary symptom is pain or tenderness on the bony prominence (lateral epicondyle) on the outside of the elbow. The pain may range from mild to severe and can be felt during activities that involve gripping or lifting.

  2. Pain with Specific Movements: Activities such as lifting, gripping, or twisting the wrist, especially against resistance, can exacerbate the pain. Simple tasks like shaking hands or turning a doorknob/jar lid may also cause discomfort.

  3. Weak Grip Strength: Tennis elbow can lead to a weakening of grip strength, making it challenging to hold objects firmly.

  4. Stiffness: The affected elbow may feel stiff and uncomfortable, especially in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

  5. Radiating Pain: In some cases, the pain from tennis elbow may radiate down the forearm towards the wrist.

  6. Worsening Pain over Time: If left untreated or if the repetitive movements continue, the pain may worsen and become more persistent.

  7. Tenderness and Swelling: The area around the lateral epicondyle may be tender to touch, and some individuals may experience mild swelling.

How do you manage Tennis Elbow?

Treatment options for tennis elbow may include rest, physical therapy, and the use of a brace or splint to support the affected area. Over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen, can also be used to reduce pain and inflammation. In some cases, a doctor may also recommend a corticosteroid injection to help alleviate symptoms.

Prevention is key

Prevention strategies for tennis elbow include properly warming up before engaging in activities that put stress on the elbow, using proper technique when engaging in those activities, and avoiding repetitive motions that can lead to overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons.

Adequate stretching and strengthening when injured tendons are healed will ultimately be the best action to take in prevention. Awareness of the activity that caused the injury will be crucial. Modifications to the activity will be required or technique mat need to be refined.

*Ready to safeguard your elbows and embrace pain-free activities? Download our Tennis Elbow Prevention Guide now!

Acupuncture Treatment plan

A treatment plan for this condition will depend on the extent of the inflammation and tendon tear. Treatment frequency is key to the healing process. Frequency of 2-3 sessions per week for 2-3 wks is ideal to stimulate tissue repair and drive down inflammation. Once palpable pain and tenderness has resolved then treatment is moved into a recovery phase of 1 per week until activities can be safely undertaken again.

Everyone is different in their response to acupuncture, as to the amount of times the can commit. The crucial treatment time is in the first 3-4 wks. Again implementing a recovery plan while undergoing acupuncture will undoubtedly speed up your recovery. Getting you back to your sport, work life, or social activities with confidence.

Your call to action ....

If you are experiencing elbow pain or have diagnosed this yourself through Dr Google then you should be receiving acupuncture. Not only will you speed up recovery time but you will also be stimulating your endocrine and nervous system to function more optimally. Acupuncture has many hidden benefits that don't just relate to pain reduction. Call today, find out and we can get you started straight away.

A bit about me:

Dr. Jacob Hoskins BHSc Chinese Medicine, DipREM

Dr. Jacob Hoskins is passionate about healing, results and helping others achieve the best out of their lives. Your movement without pain and restriction will give you confidence to carry on doing what you love doing. At Jacob Hoskins Acupuncture your whole health is taken into consideration to create ultimate healing steps towards longevity.

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