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Physical therapy for tennis elbow

What is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a form of tendonitis and repetitive strain injury caused by overuse, irritation, or chronic exhaustion of the muscles and tendons connecting the elbow to the wrist and fingers. Tendon damage typically presents with hot, sharp pain in the elbow, while issues related to the musculature produce a dull aching pain in the back of the arm.

Despite the specificity of its moniker, tennis elbow does not affect tennis players exclusively; painters, plumbers, butchers, carpenters, and individuals who frequently engage in repetitive physical tasks are at risk for developing the condition.

Source: PainScience

Tennis elbow symptoms

The most common symptoms associated with tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) are pain and tenderness around the bony knob on the outside of the elbow, which can sometimes also radiate to the arm. Patients are most likely to experience pain when trying to use their hands.

The most common symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Difficulty lifting or gripping objects, including door knobs
  • Pain when making a fist
  • Inability to raise hand or arm
  • Inability to straighten the wrist

Source: WebMD

What causes tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is caused by overuse and muscle strain. Repeated contraction of the forearm muscles used to straighten the hand and wrist can create tears in the tendons that can ultimately result in chronic pain. Although commonly associated with the racquet sport from which it gets its name, any repetitive motion of the wrist and elbow can result in tennis elbow. The condition is most common in adults between the ages of 30 and 50.

The most common causes of tennis elbow include:

  • Painting
  • Tennis and other racquet sports
  • Restaurant work (i.e. butchering)
  • Repetitive use of a computer mouse
  • Carpentry (i.e. driving screws)

Source: Mayo Clinic

Physical therapy for tennis elbow

While tennis elbow can resolve with rest and over-the-counter medications, doctors often prescribe physical therapy to encourage healing and symptom relief. Your physical therapist will likely begin by observing the motions associated with your regular occupation (i.e. your tennis technique), and suggest methods to reduce stress to the elbow.

The objectives of any physical therapy treatment program for tennis elbow will be to alleviate symptoms, prevent reinjury, and improve the strength and flexibility of the affected muscles. Physical therapists will begin with exercises designed to relieve pain before guiding patients through a series of exercises to help stretch and strengthen the muscles. Finger stretches, ball squeezes, wrist flexor stretches, wrist extensor stretches, and wrist turns are the most commonly employed exercises. The most effective methods of pain relief for tennis elbow include ice massage, muscle stimulation, and tennis elbow braces.

Source: WebMD

The best tennis elbow physical therapists in
the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles

Luna’s physical therapists are experts in the treatment of tennis elbow. Our licensed PTs can improve and reduce the symptoms of tennis elbow using comprehensive treatment programs that include guided stretches, manual treatment, and pain relief techniques.

With Luna, patients can get tennis elbow treatment at home, at the office, at the gym, or at the location of their choosing. It’s physical therapy, delivered.

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