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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Humeral Epicondylitis)

A proper diagnosis must be made by your Chiropractor or Physician in order to differentiate it from other possible conditions that can affect the muscles and joints of the arm, forearm and elbow joint. Such a condition can affect the opposite side or the radiohumeral joint of the elbow. The doctor will use a test called the "Tennis Elbow Test". This test when performed by the doctor will reproduce a sudden sharp, severe pain to the outside knob (lateral epicondyle) of the elbow joint. Lateral Humeral Epicondylitis (tennis elbow) can be an extremely disabling condition. The pain can be very severe and can radiate to the outside (lateral) of the arm and forearm. It can also affect the wrist causing a very decoded weakness that prevents the normal use of the hand, wrist and arm.

The Chiropractor or Physician, after his/her initial examination as described above, may also x-ray the elbow. In a true lateral humeral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) condition, the x-rays will be negative, helping in the definitive diagnosis of the condition. Symptoms usually associated with tennis elbow will be pain in various degrees from slight to severe, and will be concentrated over the prominent bone on the outer side of the elbow (the lateral epicondyle). Very often when the pain is severe, there can be radiation originating from the elbow to the outer-side of arm and forearm. Any flexion of the wrist, especially against resistance, will increase the pain. There will also be tenderness from the elbow down along the outer muscles of the forearm to the wrist when a pressure is placed on the muscle. The greatest point of tenderness will be in the belly or thickest part of the muscle. As the condition progresses, the arm, forearm and especially the wrist will develop a weakness that will be pronounced during flexion of the wrist.

This weakness as it becomes more pronounced, will affect the patient's ability to use the arm in a normal fashion and will greatly impact their lives. Daily chores will need to be curtailed, as will play sports, and possibly their ability to work. The pain can be so severe as to prevent them from having a normal night's sleep. In tennis elbow, as well as in all other conditions, early intervention can prevent the condition from becoming chronic and recurring during any activity that aggravates the muscle of the forearm. Recurring episodes over a long period of time can cause some scarring in the muscle and arthritis in the elbow joint. Medically the condition is treated with injections of cortisone into the tender areas. If three or four injections prove to be ineffective, surgery may be suggested Should the patient consult a Chiropractor the method of treatment will differ. The Chiropractor will use therapies; such as electric muscle stimulation and ultrasound that will help alleviate pain and improve circulation to the injured and distressed tissues. He/she may also recommend the use of a strap to be worn around the forearm, just below the elbow. The strap acts as a splint that will prevent the muscles from contracting fully, allowing them to relax.

The patient however should be at the forefront of his or her own treatment. They should make every endeavor to rest the arm as much as it is feasible. Pinpointing the original causative factor of the condition will prove to be a great plus. They must avoid any activity of a repetitive nature such as sports or work that places stress on the wrist or forearm. During this period of rest they need to help alleviate any pain or discomfort that is present. To help ease the pain, the use of an analgesic balm can be of significant value. Using the gel 3 or 4 times daily can make the patient more comfortable. And it is during this period that the patient should also wear the tennis elbow strap. The strap should be worn during all physical activity. During very painful periods the strap can be worn even while sleeping. However, it should be removed for a short period for few hours at a time. The strap combined with magnetic therapy can add significant relief for the pain and aid in a speedy recovery for the condition. The magnetic therapy will be instrumental in dilating the blood vessels, leading to increased circulation and thereby speeding the healing process.

The usual time for the healing process to take place can be 1 to 3 weeks. When the symptoms have sufficiently subsided and the individual can return to their normal daily activities, they should use the strap when engaging in sports, or at their job if any repetitive motions are required. Any sign of the return of symptoms for any reason, the individual should use the analgesic balm and of course use the tennis elbow strap as needed.

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