Tennis elbow often gets better on its own, but the majority of people who have persistent pain show improvement through non-surgical treatment.
Tennis elbow is actually a misnomer in that it occurs in roughly only five percent of people who play tennis. Anatomically, the cause of tennis elbow is repetitive use of the forearm extensor muscles, especially if they weren’t used much previously. In my experience, tennis elbow is rarely a condition of it’s own. It is almost always related to a malfunctioning shoulder and related structures. In other words, if your upper extremity is not functioning the way it’s supposed to, over time you are going to get problems Practically any occupation, sporting endeavor, or household activity that has repeated use of the shoulder, arm, forearm and wrist may lead to this condition. Certain activities and occupations are more commonly associated with tennis elbow, such as plumbing, painting, fishing, butchering, computer use, and playing certain musical instruments. Tennis elbow is most common in adults between the ages of 30 and 50, but can affect people of all ages.
People with tennis elbow complain of pain that expands from the outer elbow into their forearm and wrist. The pain primarily occurs where the tendons of your forearm attach to the bony areas on the outside elbow. In addition to pain, people with tennis elbow experience weakness that makes it particularly difficult to hold a coffee cup, turn a doorknob, or even shake hands. Tennis elbow can cause weakness when twisting or grabbing objects.
In many cases, we take a look at entire skeletal system. Why? Because for example, a slight curvature of the mid spine can cause a high shoulder which can affect the arm and elbow; overtime causing tennis elbow. We then work to reduce inflammation and restore normal function of the entire upper extremity. In other words we work on the cause of tennis elbow to prevent it from reoccurring. We may need to order X-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), or Electromyography (EMG) to assess any structural damage that has occurred over time, but in most cases normal activities can be resumed in no time.
A chiropractor will be able to determine if a misalignment in your spine, neck, or shoulders may be causing an overcompensation injury. In some cases, a basic chiropractic adjustment and cold laser may be all your need to stop your symptoms of pain. We will also work with you to determine which activities may have caused your injury and may have you temporarily rest your arm while refraining from the trigger activities.. Compression, by using an elastic bandage, is helpful to provide relief and prevent further injury. Lastly, elevating your elbow whenever possible will limit or prevent swelling.
If chiropractic adjustments and cold laser helps to alleviate tennis elbow symptoms, then a specific exercise plan is often the recommended next step. You will learn exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons in your arm. We will also work with you to develop proper form and technique regarding the activity that was the likely culprit to developing your tennis elbow. Depending on the severity of the injury, we may suggest you wear a brace or forearm strap, which will reduce stress on the injured tissue while it heals.
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