LATERAL EPICONDYLITIS (TENNIS ELBOW)
Lateral epicondylitis - commonly called tennis elbow - is a tendonitis problem around the elbow. Tendinitis is inflammation of the tendon. Inflammation is the body’s response to injury, whether it is an acute strain or in this case more commonly a repetitive overuse injury.
The muscles on the backside of the forearm originate from a small tendon that attaches on the bony prominence along the outside edge of the elbow called the lateral epicondyle. The injury or inflammation is localized to this area, thus the name “lateral epicondylitis”. These muscles are actually more responsible for wrist motion. Thus, it is often wrist activities that worsen the pain more than use of the elbow. A whole group of tendons attach to the epicondyle, but the one most clearly responsible for epicondylitis is that of the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) that lies deepest on the bone and closest to the joint.
Lateral epicondylitis actually exists as a spectrum of injury, ranging from varying degrees of inflammation to partial tendon injury. Approximately 98% of all epicondylitis will respond successfully to conservative treatment.
Mild inflammation may resolve spontaneously. Simply avoiding painful activities and a course of over the counter anti-inflammatory medication may be sufficient. Applying ice to the area of soreness for 20 or 30 minutes may help subside acute symptoms.
More stubborn cases may require attention from your Nashville Chiropractor. Examination will reveal point tenderness over the bony prominence. Pain is typically elicited when the patient is instructed to cock their wrist up against resistance by the examiner. This causes pain over the epicondyle because of tension created on the tendon when the forearm muscles contract to move the wrist.
TREATMENT OF TENNIS ELBOW
The doctors at Art of Health Chiropractic are able to instruct patients on how to gently stretch the muscle groups, maintaining flexibility as well as providing instruction on when best to use ice or heat. Strengthening can be helpful to protect the elbow for future use, but cannot be implemented when it is acutely inflamed. The doctors will also apply treatment modalities that reduce the localized inflammation and help with discomfort.
Deep tissue laser therapy is warranted in cases where inflammation and pain are disruptive to activities of daily living. Laser therapy allows for the inflammation to be drastically decreased and the body's natural healing process to be accelerated. Most patients experience results in 3 to 5 short visits.
Surgery is indicated in only 1 to 2% of all cases of lateral epicondylitis and is considered only after an appropriate trial of conservative treatment.
Dr. Callie Gant and Dr. Michael Buczynski founded Art of Health Chiropractic with the goal of creating a happier, healthier Nashville. Feel free to call the office at 615-953-7544 with any questions or to schedule your first appointment.