All about Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow may not be the first thing that pops to mind when you think of Chiropractic treatment, but here at Gloucester Chiropractors it’s something we see a lot of in clinic and are very well equipped to deal with!
What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, as it is technically known, is the most common cause of elbow pain and affects between 1 and 3% of the general population, though this number increases in manual and assembly line workers to up to 20%. It is caused by irritation of the tendon on the outside of the elbow, the muscles of which are involved in movements of the wrist and hand, as well as gripping. This often leads to pain on movements that involve gripping, especially in combination with lifting – this can vary from heavy loads to something as simple as lifting a full kettle to make a cup of tea!
Risk factors for tennis elbow include repetitive and/or forceful work involving the hand and wrist, handling tools and loads in overhead positions and use of vibrating tools. This means we often see tennis elbow in builders, particularly bricklayers, electricians and plumbers, but also in those who do a lot of desk work and typing due to the sustained angle of the wrist when using a mouse or keyboard.
How is tennis elbow diagnosed?
Tennis elbow can be diagnosed using a combination of the information we get from talking to you about how the pain started, your day-to-day activities etc, and a physical examination of the elbow.
Tennis elbow rarely requires any form of x-ray or scans in order to diagnose or manage it.
How is tennis elbow treated?
Tennis elbow is a condition that responds very well to a combination of hands-on treatment, exercises and short-term modifications to your day-to-day activities.
Some of the forms of treatment we offer for tennis elbow at Gloucester Chiropractors include:
- Dry needling – this is a western medical form of acupuncture and has been shown to be as effective as steroid injections for the management of tennis elbow. It has also been shown to have positive effects on pain, pain-related disability and grip strength when used in the treatment of tennis elbow.
- Joint mobilisation – this can be at the elbow but also in the surrounding joints to make sure there is nothing else impacting on elbow function.
- Soft-tissue therapy – working with the muscles and other tissues around the elbow, but also in the forearm, upper arm and shoulder to relieve strain on the elbow.
- Home exercises – these are essential in the medium to long-term management of tennis elbow in order to optimally recover from the current episode and help prevent reoccurrence in the future.
- Advice on short-term activity modification to take some strain off the tendon, painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications if appropriate for you and wrist and elbow supports if indicated.
Other Treatment Options for Tennis Elbow
If you are really unlucky, the approaches outlined above may not resolve your tennis elbow.
Fortunately, there are other options available to you.
Braces and supports can assist with recovery, particularly if you need to keep active for work or sport. They are not a permanent fix, but can be helpful short-term. Since these are relatively inexpensive and widely available, you can try wearing these at the same time as having your elbow treated.
Over the counter, or prescription, anti-inflammatories can be helpful for some people with tennis elbow. Depending on your chiropractor’s advice, you may be able to take these while having treatment for tennis elbow.
Injection therapy, using cortisone, can help where other approaches have failed. Cortisone injections should never be the first option because there is a relatively high risk of complications, including damage to the tendon and bone in the elbow.
Surgery used to be offered to people suffering with chronic (long-term) tennis elbow, but is rarely offered now due to poor results and high risks.
So if you’re struggling with elbow pain, we can help! Give Gloucester Chiropractors a call on 07716489363 or email email@example.com to book your appointment.