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Can Physical Therapy for Tennis Elbow Speed Recovery?

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylalgia, is an overuse injury involving the tendons in the elbow engaged during repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. Although common in athletes who participate in racquet sports, it is also frequently seen in those who suffer from workplace injuries —  affecting up to 3% of the U.S. adult population. Physical therapy for tennis elbow has a wide range of benefits, including pre-surgery and post-surgery rehab and recovery, improving mobility and reducing pain.

Let’s take a deeper look at tennis elbow and how physical therapy can help speed recovery.

What is Tennis Elbow?

Patients who have this condition often report feeling pain in the lateral elbow (outside of the elbow), which is exacerbated by gripping, lifting or handling objects with their hands. Historically, this condition occurs in tennis players, but it can result from any activity that requires repetitive wrist extension, rotating the forearm (forearm supination), or bending the wrist in the direction of the little finger (radial deviation). In fact, only 10% of tennis players make up this patient population.

Tennis elbow commonly occurs in patients between the ages of 30-50 years of age. Other risk factors for the development of this elbow condition include: smoking, obesity, a repetitive movement for at least two hours daily, and vigorous activity (managing physical loads exceeding 20 kg).

What Does Tennis Elbow Feel Like?

In the past, tennis elbow had been considered a condition of inflammation. Lateral epicondylitis has been the term commonly used to refer to tennis elbow. Inflammation is identified by the suffix “itis”. However, newer research actually shows a lack of inflammatory cells in patients suffering from tennis elbow. Now, tennis elbow is considered a degenerative condition of the tendon. Therefore, the suffix “algia” replaces “itis” for the more appropriate description of tennis elbow.

Some of the main symptoms of tennis elbow are tenderness and pain beginning at the lateral epicondyle of the elbow and spreading down the forearm. It may extend as far as the middle and ring fingers. Tight and sore forearm muscles are also symptoms of tennis elbow.

Patients usually notice that the pain gets worse when the wrist is bent backward, with the palm turned upward. Grasping items tends to make the pain worse. Simply reaching into the cupboard to get a glass off the top shelf with an extended arm can cause pain. Carrying a bag or shaking hands can become extremely painful.

How Can Physical Therapy Help Tennis Elbow?

Physical therapy interventions can help accelerate the recovery process of tennis elbow. Manual therapy techniques such as joint mobilization and soft tissue treatments combined with exercises including stretching and strengthening have been demonstrated to regain normal movement of the muscles and tendons at the lateral elbow. With typical movement returning there is a decrease in pain and an increase in function.  

Additional interventions used by physical therapists include ultrasound, cryotherapy (ice treatment), electrical stimulation and other techniques can also help relieve symptoms of tennis elbow. But, like many injuries, early treatment is critical in the success of a full recovery.

Tennis Elbow Physical Therapy Treatments in New Jersey

When it comes to diagnosing, treating and recovering from tennis elbow, many factors come into play. Everyone’s different. It’s best to work with a professional physical therapist who can prescribe an accurate treatment plan for your individual needs.

If you suffer from tennis elbow in New Jersey, we have 51 convenient locations. Each Twin Boro office offers skilled physical therapists who are ready to help you functioning again, whether it is in tennis or the workplace. Give us a call at1-732-444-3578 to schedule your appointment.

Twin Boro Physical Therapy: Voted Readers’ Choice Best of New Jersey

Voted Readers’ Choice Best of New Jersey, Twin Boro has provided NJ residents with high quality physical therapy and rehab for over 38 years! It’s our award-winning approach, proven results and reputation that sets us apart. By incorporating the One2Four program into each patient’s program, the latest and most reliable scientific research and techniques are incorporated into effective evidence-based practice. We deliver only the highest standard of care with the unique One2Four approach.

It’s no surprise that Twin Boro Physical Therapy has also been voted the best physical therapy practice in New Jersey by the readers of mycentraljersey.com.

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