Can chiropractic treatments help tennis elbow?

tennis elbow

Tennis elbow (also known as lateral epicondylitis) is a fairly commonly seen injury among our patients. Which isn’t surprising since it’s estimated to affect 1-3% of the general population each year.

Though tennis elbow is usually associated with the repetitive motion of swinging a tennis racket, the painful condition often results from much more mundane activities such as gardening, painting, typing, or anything that involves repetitive arm motion. We even see it among plumbers, restaurant kitchen workers, assembly line workers, and anyone whose job requires a forceful grip.

What causes tennis elbow?

Overworked, irritated, and damaged tendons (flexible bands that connect muscle to bone) in the elbow are the problem.

The condition is caused by repetitive stress or overworking the ‘extensor’ tendons of the elbow which can lead to inflammation, microtears, and degeneration. It is these particular tendons, on the outer side of the elbow, that are responsible for extending or straightening the wrist and fingers. (Ironically, golfer’s elbow is, in some ways, the opposite. It affects the ‘flexor’ tendons located on the inside of the elbow. Those are involved in flexing or bending the wrist and fingers,)

The resulting symptoms, most often pain on the outside of the elbow, can vary from mild to severe and is often most noticeable when gripping, lifting, or extending the wrist. This pain can make it difficult to perform daily tasks or participate in many activities.

While many cases of tennis elbow may resolve on their own over time while limiting the use of the affected elbow, a lot depends on the severity of the injury and the individual’s overall health and activity level. Severe or prolonged cases may require more intensive treatments, such as physical therapy or chiropractic care. A traditional medical route might even prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroid injections.

How can chiropractic treatments help?

Fortunately, a variety of manual therapy techniques can be effective at alleviating pain, correcting alignment, and restoring function to the affected joint and surrounding muscles for many of our patients suffering from tennis elbow. In our experience, the following self-care measures and chiropractic treatments help tennis elbow recovery:

  • Joint manipulation or chiropractic adjustment:
    By applying controlled force to a joint (in this case, the elbow, wrist, and/or spine), we’re able to improve alignment, reduce pain-causing restrictions, and relieve pressure on the affected tissues. This, in turn, promotes healing and restores normal movement and function.
  • Soft tissue mobilization
    Hands-on techniques such as massage, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and stretching can improve tissue flexibility, reduce pain and inflammation, promote circulation to the area, and improve range of motion.
  • Prescribing strength- and flexibility-building exercises
    As part of supportive therapies, we might recommend specific exercises to lengthen and strengthen the tendons and muscles of the forearm, wrist, and hand. By increasing blood flow to the injured elbow area and gradually improving strength, flexibility, and endurance of the involved tendons and muscles, we’re often able to speed the recover time, improve overall joint function, and prevent future instances of tennis elbow. (While both muscles and tendons benefit from strengthening and stretching exercises, they respond differently because of their different functions and structures. In both cases however, increasing the load should be done progressively to avoid injury.)

    wrist stretching exercisesExamples of wrist and grip exercises for treatment or prevention of tennis elbow might include wrist extension stretches, wrist flexion stretches, wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, squeezing a stress ball or squishy ball, towel twists (as if wringing water from a towel, reversing the direction between repetitions), and finger stretches (placing a rubber band around your fingers and thumb, spreading your fingers apart, holding, then relaxing).

  • Discussing lifestyle changes
    Modifying grip techniques, using ergonomic tools, and warming up and stretching before activities may be recommended to promote long-term joint health and prevent future occurrences of tennis elbow.

Simply pushing through the pain of a tennis elbow is not advised. This can often worsen the injury and slow the recovery time.

Suffering from persistent or painful tennis elbow?
Dr. Jefferey Meyers DC in Omaha may be able to help

If you or someone you know is suffering from prolonged or painful tennis elbow, contact our office today.

For over 20 years, Dr. Jeffrey Meyers has been helping patients in Omaha experience less pain and quicker recovery from auto accident and sports injuries. His chiropractic treatments alone, or in conjunction with other healthcare therapies, may help to alleviate pain, improve overall function, and help get you back into the swing of things. Contact Dr. Meyers at his midtown Omaha health and wellness office today.

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