One common condition we treat in the office is tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is a condition where the muscles that extend your wrist back, where they attach, right above the elbow here the tendon will get either irritated or it can actually get almost frayed. If it doesn’t heal properly it causes pain right at the attachment point where it attaches on the bone there. The cause is a repetitive stress injury such as grabbing a racket, that’s why it’s often caused with tennis. But it can also be just any kind of gripping exercise or anything just repetitive stress that you’re doing on a computer mouse. That can cause tension to develop in the muscle leading up to the attachment point in the elbow.
We will treat the tight muscle in the forearm and that’ll help take tension off the elbow. Laser therapy, that can be used to help heal the tendon where it attaches to the bone. That’ll help speed up the healing, decrease any pain and inflammation. We can also do dry needling on the forearm muscles here to loosen up tension in the muscles here to take the pressure off there. Graston Technique and Active Release Techniques are the two other techniques we’ll apply to help fix the tight muscles in the forearm and take pressure off of the elbow.
Dry needling in one treatment technique we use to fix tennis elbow. This is an effective treatment technique to help release the tension on the elbow. Dry needling loosens up knots or trigger points in the forearm muscles.
Another effective treatment in treating tennis elbow is Graston Technique with the Graston tool. We’re going to take it over the affected area and it’s going to help to smooth out any knots or tightness that have formed in the forearm muscles. The patient can actually feel little ridges or bumps where there’s a problem. We don’t realize how often we use our hands and forearms throughout the day, gripping things, doing various activities on a daily basis. But what happens is it gets to a point where it tightens up, tightens up and then it’ll cause pain right in the elbow there. Graston technique is going to help massage and loosen up any of the muscle tension.
The other technique we’re going to utilize is an Active Release Technique. We actively put the muscle through a range of motion. And underneath my thumb we’re helping to loosen up any tension, break up any knots or tension that has formed in the forearm muscles here. Often this technique and the Graston Technique patients describe the treatment as a “hurts good” feeling. It feels like we’re releasing a lot of the tension here in the muscles. Often this problem can get so bad that the patients can’t grip anything. Any kind of light grip, even a coffee mug, will cause severe pain right in the elbow there. That’s definitely a situation you need to get treated right away so this doesn’t keep developing into more of a chronic issue there.
For the more severe tennis elbow cases we’ll use laser therapy to help calm down the irritated area. It’ll also help accelerate the healing process in that tendon where there’s a problem. We apply the laser therapy over the affected region. The patient is just going to feel a light, mild, warm sensation where there’s a problem. And we’re going to apply it to the whole area from the elbow all the way down to the wrist. And, again, this is just really powerful because it can get about two inches into the affected area and help decrease any pain and inflammation and accelerate the healing process. We use laser therapy in cases where the pain is moderate to severe. Laser therapy is a very effective treatment when we’re dealing with an acute tennis elbow case.
A typical tennis elbow case will take four to eight visits to resolve. For a chronic case it could be up to 12 visits or even more, depending on how bad the case is. If we don’t see improvement within about four to six visits that is when I will refer patients for an MRI of the elbow to rule out that there is not a more significant tear in the tissue. But usually within four visits patients feel about a 50% improvement and then it just builds on top of that as we get them better. In addition to treatment in the office, patients can accelerate the healing process by doing certain exercises to treat tennis elbow. And one exercise we’re going to have the patient do is we’re going to have them do what we call an “isometric exercise.”
One additional treatment that patients can do at home that will help accelerate the healing of the tennis elbow is Rocktape. This treatment takes a significant amount of stress and pressure off of the injured area and allows the patient to function throughout the day without irritating it. You may have seen people wear these braces right in this region, too. And that’s another option is you can put a strap above kind of right at the top of the forearm here. And what that does is it does a similar thing, it’ll take some of the pressure off the injured area. But this is nice because you barely know it’s there. It’s just another kind of part of the skin there and it’s just basically is going to take pressure off the injured area. Whereas the strap is a little bit more compressive and a little bit more uncomfortable to wear. A lot of times you’ll see tennis players wear that if they’re dealing with an injury. But it basically is acting like a crutch, it’s not actually fixing the problem. We’re going to use this only when the patient is dealing with an active problem. Once we get them better they don’t need to wear this as a long-term treatment. So if you’re dealing with tennis elbow I would highly recommend using RockTape to help accelerate the healing process.
If you’re dealing with tennis elbow give our office a call at (703) 912-7822 or you can visit us online at NovaChiroWellness.com