Physical Therapy Guide to Tennis Elbow

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Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) can happen to anyone, anywhere! It is a painful condition, caused by repetitive or strenuous wrist and arm actions. Tennis elbow is typically caused by excessive use of wrist and arm actions while operating heavy machinery, computer or any other sports activity leading to damage or micro-tearing in the tendons joining the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. It doesn’t take much time to recover from tennis elbow unless it is left untreated. People suffer from loss of motion or function of the elbow or forearm if the condition reaches its severity. 

Orthopaedics from AMRI Hospitals, suggest Physical therapy as the first and most effective line of treatment for the condition as it helps improve blood flow to the tendons while regaining the strength and flexibility in the forearm muscles preventing future injuries. 

Physical Therapy and Pain Relief

Physical therapists aim to help patients by teaching some relieving stretches and exercises that speed up the recovery.

The procedure may involve: 

  • Regular ice massages
  • Tape, straps, or braces for support 
  • Muscle stimulation
  • Ultrasound (to evaluate severity & improvement)

Physical therapy also helps patients understand the correct ways to move their arms and wrists, besides learning how to reduce the strain involved in everyday activities, as well as the right direction to rest the elbow. 

Exercises

  1. Fist Clench

In this exercise, improving grip strength is the goal to overcome the common symptoms of tennis elbow. Fist clench focuses on building muscles, increasing the ability to perform routine work.

  • You need to have a table and towel to perform this exercise
  • Sit straight across the table with your forearm resting on it
  • Rolla towel into a ball and hold it in your hand
  • Squeeze it tight and hold for 10 seconds 
  • Release and repeat the exercise at least for ten times.
  • Switch and engage the other arm
  1. Wrist Extensor Stretch

Wrist extensor stretch needs proper guidance from a qualified therapist, as it involves a crucial group of muscles responsible for bending the wrist. 

  • First raise the arm outwards
  • Now with the palm facing down, gradually bend the wrist downwards
  • With the help of the other hand, pull the extended arm gently to feel a stretch in your upper forearms 
  • Hold on the position for 15 to 30 seconds
  • Loosen the grip and straighten the wrist
  • Repeat the exercise twice
  • Try to perform two more sets of 3 repetitions
  1. Elbow Bend

Elbow bend is another beneficial activity helping useful for tennis elbow:

  • Stand straight and lower the arm to one side
  • Slowly bend the arm upwards, until your hand touches the shoulder
  • Hold in this position for 15- 30 seconds
  • Repeat the activity 10 times
  1. Wrist Turn

One of the easiest and simplest ways to treat Tennis elbow is to perform wrist turn:

  • Bend your elbow at 90 degrees
  • Extend the hand outwards, with the palm facing up
  • Gradually, twist the wrist around and move it downwards
  • Hold the position for not more than 5 seconds
  • Repeat 10 times with two more sets
  1. Forearm Strengthening

Another crucial physical activity required to regain strength, flexibility and stability is forearm strengthening, which is done by:

  • Sit upright and grab a 1-pound dumbbell 
  • Support your forearm, using your thigh or the edge of the table, in a manner that your wrist hangs over the edge 
  • Ensure that you have gripped the dumbbell correctly; from the bottom and not the middle 

Now gradually turn your hand so that your palm faces up; do it slowly to move the forearm only and not your elbow

  • Now turn the palm towards the ground
  • Complete a set of 10.

Note:

The exercises mentioned above require consultation from a doctor and guidance from a qualified physical therapist. It is important to get screened and rule out the chances of severe injuries such as a muscle or tendon tear.

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