Tennis elbow, in fancy medical language named “lateral epicondylitis”, is a common overuse injury that affects not only tennis players but also active adults and athletes engaged in repetitive arm movements. While there are several treatment options available, this article dives into a research-driven approach that emphasizes the importance of strengthening tissue rather than relying solely on passive modalities. We will also explore dry needling as an effective option for alleviating tennis elbow symptoms. Read on to discover how you can find long-term relief and get back to doing what you love.
1. UNDERSTANDING TENNIS ELBOW
Tennis elbow occurs when the extensor tendons in the elbow become overloaded, initially resulting in inflammation, pain, and tenderness on the outer side of the elbow joint. It is often caused by repetitive wrist and forearm movements, such as those involved in tennis, golf, painting, or even typing. Active adults and athletes are particularly susceptible to this condition due to their involvement in these activities.
2. IMPORTANCE OF STRENGTHENING TISSUE
Passive modalities like rest, ice, and braces can provide temporary relief from pain, but they do not address the root cause of the problem which is crucial if you’re interested in long-term improvement (and keeping the pain from coming back again). Research suggests that strengthening the affected tissue is essential for long-term healing and preventing future recurrences. By strengthening the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the elbow, individuals can improve their ability to absorb and distribute forces, reducing the strain on the affected area.
3. ACTIVE OPTIONS FOR TENNIS ELBOW
Using Exercise as Medicine: Engaging in specific exercises that target the forearm extensor and flexor muscles, as well as muscles responsible for pronating and supinating the forearm (turning palm down versus palm up) can significantly improve the strength and flexibility of the affected area. Strengthening is so important that we usually recommend NOT stretching to seek relief from tennis elbow, as it really does not usually address the root cause of the problem. A Physical Therapist or sports medicine specialist can guide you through a customized exercise program that gradually increases in intensity, helping you regain full functionality.
Eccentric Training: Eccentric exercises involve lengthening the muscles as they contract. Studies have shown that eccentric training is particularly effective in treating tennis elbow. It helps remodel and strengthen the tendon, promoting healing and reducing pain.
4. INTRODUCING DRY NEEDLING
Dry needling is an increasingly popular treatment option for tennis elbow that can complement strengthening exercises. This technique involves inserting thin needles into trigger points within the affected muscles. The needles stimulate the tissue, promoting blood flow, reducing muscle tension, and releasing endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the word Endorphin is derived from “Endogenous” (in/from your own body) & “Morphine” (opiate-like pain relieving chemical). In other words, when endorphins are released in your body, you get the benefit of all-natural and often times powerful pain relief without any side effects!
Dry needling can enhance the effectiveness of exercise therapy, accelerate healing, and provide relief from pain. Our clients at Limitless constantly rave about the impact dry needling can have on their elbow-related problems!
5. TAKING ACTION: CONTACT A LIMITLESS PT
If you’re seeking a comprehensive and research-driven approach to treating tennis elbow, Limitless is here to help. Our experienced team of physical therapists and sports medicine specialists understands the unique needs of active adults and athletes. By combining strengthening exercises, active modalities, and dry needling, we provide personalized treatment plans to promote tissue healing and long-term relief from tennis elbow.
When it comes to curing tennis elbow, the key lies in strengthening the affected tissue rather than relying solely on passive treatments. Active modalities such as exercise therapy and eccentric training play a crucial role in tissue remodeling and improving overall function. Consider the benefits of dry needling as a complementary treatment option offered at Limitless Physical Therapy & Performance. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step toward a pain-free future!