Lateral Epicondylitis, commonly known as Tennis Elbow, is a challenging and often debilitating injury that can significantly affect one’s quality of life. Despite its name, it is not exclusively linked to playing tennis and can result from various repetitive movements during occupational activities, such as heavy gripping, elbow flexion/extension, or wrist extension. In this article, we will delve into the basics, complexities, and a strategic plan for managing and recovering from this condition.
What is Lateral Epicondylitis (LE)?
Lateral Epicondylitis (LE) or as it is commonly known, Tennis Elbow, is an uncomfortable, debilitating injury that can impact all aspects of life. Contrary to the name very rarely is it caused by hitting excessive ferocious single hand backhands at your local Tennis club. In fact it is commonly picked up during one’s occupation, particularly if this involves repetitive heavy gripping, elbow flexion/extension, wrist extension or combination of the 3.
Understanding the basics of Lateral Epicondylitis
LE is an aggravation or irritation of the common extensor tendon that originates from the lateral epicondyle of the humerus (upper arm bone). Tendons attach muscle to bone and transfer all of the energy that is produced from a muscle contraction causing a joint to move. During activity tendons will undergo microtrauma that is commonplace with all activity, however excessive activity and/or insufficient recovery will cause an ongoing tendon injury.
The Complexities of Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Running closely to the common extensor tendon is the radial nerve and this is where things get interesting. After chronic irritation and instability the radial nerve can be irritated in many episodes of LE. This can cause burning/discomfort/pins and needles down the middle of the forearm and into the hand. Stabilising the radial head and settling this neural irritation is vital in ensuring a safe and successful recovery from LE.
In some instances – particularly in patients over the age of 40 oftentimes their condition is more commonly classified as tendinosis, where in fact the collagen fibers of the tendon are chronically disorganised resulting from long term degeneration and not acute or acute/chronic inflammation. This will generally take longer to recover from however it is by no means a lifelong issue.
Comprehensive Assessment and Treatment Plan for Tennis Elbow Recovery
Your initial session will include a battery of objective tests to obtain baseline numbers which can both develop expectations but also allow us to regularly retest to assess progress. Relative rest and activity modification are important factors in settling both radial nerve and tendon pain, relative rest has been shown to be achieved through the use of a wrist splint. This needs to be then followed by a gradual loading and stabilising strength program to ensure you return to your chosen occupation or profession stronger than ever before! Supporting modalities that can be used include soft tissue massage, stretching, corticosteroid injection (GP referral) and exercise therapy.
Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) Solutions: Discovering the Road to a Pain-Free Future
Lateral Epicondylitis, or Tennis Elbow, can be a challenging condition to manage, but with a well-structured plan and professional guidance, a successful recovery is entirely achievable. The key lies in understanding the complexities of the condition, implementing a personalized treatment strategy, and working towards a stronger, pain-free future.
For personalized consultation and expert guidance in your journey to recover from Lateral Epicondylitis, reach out to Action Rehab Hand Therapy today.
- Lateral epicondylitis
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Kun-Long Ma, Hai-Qiang Wang, “Management of Lateral Epicondylitis: A Narrative Literature Review”, Pain Research and Management, vol. 2020, Article ID 6965381, 9 pages, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/6965381