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Tennis Elbow Physical Therapy Treatment

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that causes pain on the outside of the elbow. The goal of physical therapy for tennis elbow is to reduce pain, improve range of motion, and strengthen the forearm muscles. Physical therapy typically includes the following:

  • Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). This is the first line of treatment for tennis elbow. RICE helps to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Stretching exercises. Stretching the forearm muscles can help to improve range of motion and reduce pain.
  • Strengthening exercises. Strengthening the forearm muscles can help to prevent further injury and improve function.
  • Manual therapy. A physical therapist may use manual therapy techniques, such as massage, to reduce pain and improve range of motion.
  • Equipment. A physical therapist may recommend the use of a counterforce brace or strap to help reduce pain and stress on the forearm muscles.

Exercises for Tennis Elbow

The following are some exercises that a physical therapist may recommend for tennis elbow:

  • Wrist extension and flexion. This exercise helps to strengthen the wrist extensors and flexors. To do this exercise, sit with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and your forearm resting on a table. With your palm facing down, slowly extend your wrist until it is pointing straight up. Then, slowly flex your wrist until it is pointing down. Repeat 10 times.
  • Wrist radial deviation and ulnar deviation. This exercise helps to strengthen the muscles that move the wrist away from and towards the body. To do this exercise, sit with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and your forearm resting on a table. With your palm facing down, slowly move your wrist away from your body (radial deviation). Then, slowly move your wrist towards your body (ulnar deviation). Repeat 10 times.
  • Wrist pronation and supination. This exercise helps to strengthen the muscles that rotate the forearm. To do this exercise, sit with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and your forearm resting on a table. With your palm facing down, slowly rotate your forearm so that your palm is facing up (supination). Then, slowly rotate your forearm so that your palm is facing down again (pronation). Repeat 10 times.
  • Ball squeezes. This exercise helps to strengthen the grip muscles. To do this exercise, squeeze a ball in your hand as tightly as you can for 10 seconds. Then, relax your hand for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  • Towel twists. This exercise helps to strengthen the forearm muscles. To do this exercise, hold a towel in both hands with your palms facing each other. Twist the towel as tightly as you can for 10 seconds. Then, relax your hands and let the towel go limp. Repeat 10 times.

It is important to start these exercises slowly and gradually increase the number of repetitions and weight as tolerated. If you experience pain, stop the exercise immediately and consult with your physical therapist.

Pain Management for Tennis Elbow

In addition to physical therapy, there are a number of things you can do to manage pain from tennis elbow:

  • Ice. Apply ice to the affected area for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
  • Over-the-counter pain medication. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Corticosteroid injections. In some cases, a doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation.
  • Needling therapy. Needling therapy, also known as acupuncture, can help to reduce pain and improve function.

Rehabilitation Timeline

The rehabilitation timeline for tennis elbow varies depending on the severity of the injury. In most cases, it takes 4-6 weeks to recover from tennis elbow with physical therapy. However, it may take up to 12 weeks for some people to fully recover.

If you are experiencing pain from tennis elbow, it is important to see a physical therapist as soon as possible. Early intervention can help to speed up the recovery process and prevent further injury.

Conclusion

Tennis elbow is a common condition that can be treated effectively with physical therapy. With patience and dedication, most people can make a full recovery from tennis elbow.

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