Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is an inflammation of the lateral portion of the elbow. The affected part becomes tender and sore. The symptoms include stiffness of the arm, forearm, wrist, or other parts of the body such as neck and shoulder bone.
This condition occurs due to overuse of the arm, which results in small tears of the tendon. The affected part gets reduced blood supply. It affects not only the tennis players, but also the people whose profession requires repetitive use of the arm and forearm.
Taking rest and applying ice packs can treat the mild cases; however, it is always better to consult a physician if the pain remains for a longer duration. Mostly preferred methods of treatment are anti-inflammatory medications and physiotherapy.
Physical therapy mainly involves stretching and arm movements that help in overall strengthening of the muscle group. Following are some important physiotherapy treatments that are used:
Gentle massaging over the affected area can help increase the blood circulation and quicken the natural healing capacity of the muscles and tendons. Massaging techniques may be of different types such as gentle strokes, application of light or heavy pressure, and holding a part of a muscle.
Manual therapy includes putting pressure on muscles, careful pulling, or pushing of bones and joints for proper alignment. These are performed to mobilize the affected area and also increase their flexibility.
Ultrasound treatment is application of heat on the affected area. The temperature of the applied heat depends on the condition and age of the person. The application of heat helps in proper blood circulation and strengthens the affected muscles and tendons.
Electrical stimulation including transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) involves the use of electric current to transfer energy to an affected area. Electric current is passed using two wet electrode pads, which are placed at the affected area. The electric current masks the pain signal sent by the brain and provides pain relief.
In addition to the aforementioned treatment methods, therapists may recommend a few exercises to get rid of the swelling and enhance the range of motion of the elbow. The recovery time may vary from several weeks to several years depending upon the severity. If the pain increases, consult your physiotherapist or other health practitioner for proper treatment.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.