At the Oakville Chiropractic Centre, we treat many different types of injuries. One that our chiropractors in Oakville often come across in their patients is Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) and Golfers Elbow (Epicondylitis).
Tennis and golfers’ elbow are typically defined as overuse injuries of the arm, elbow and wrist that cause degeneration in the tendons of the muscles that are used for extending and bending the wrist as well as hand gripping. People with this condition will have pain on either side of their elbow, in their forearm or wrist that is brought on with wrist or elbow movements and/or excessive hand gripping. Due to the increased demand placed on the muscles, whether it be due to work, your hobbies, or if the muscles are deconditioned, the muscle breaks down faster than it can heal which leads to a degenerative state. In the office sometimes we see people with acute epicondylitis (has been happening less than 3 months) or it can also be chronic (more than 4-6 months).
Managing Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
Rest: The number one thing that this condition needs is rest. Remember, epicondylitis occurs due to too much stress placed on the tendons and muscles. Unless we remove some of that stress, we decrease our ability to manage the condition. However, I fully understand that if using your hands, wrists and elbows is an integral part of your job sometimes you aren’t able to accomplish that. In this case sometimes using a counterforce brace can be helpful by alleviating some of the tension on the tissues.
Rehabilitation exercises: The main goal of treatment is to build up enough strength in the muscle and tendon that it can handle the demands that are being placed on it day to day. The challenge with this is that if done incorrectly, or the wrong exercises are performed they will not be as effective and lead to more pain. We want to start with Pain free Isometric exercises (contracting the muscle without movement of the joints). Isometric exercises allow us to build strength with minimal damage occurring to the muscle tissue because there is no movement, they can also alleviate pain. Once all isometric exercises can be performed pain free, with maximal strength in a variety of different joint positions it is safe to move on the other forms of exercises. The next best form of exercises are eccentric muscle contractions (contracting the muscle while it lengthens).
Manual Therapy: Sometimes the body needs a little extra help to get things going or speed things along. That’s where seeking help from a trained professional will do. Our goal is to speed up your recovery by providing you direction and providing your body with an optimal environment for healing. In terms of epicondylitis either manual soft tissue release or instrument assisted soft tissue release techniques tend do be the most helpful. These techniques are used with the goals of decreasing pain, increasing range of motion and stimulating tissue healing. Your therapist may also provide some joint manipulation/mobilization of the elbow, wrist and hand as needed to ensure everything is moving the way it should. Following up manual therapy with the appropriate rehabilitation exercises is the best approach to optimize your healing.
Epicondylitis can be tricky to deal with, and like most injuries, the longer you wait to deal with it or for it to go away on its own the harder it becomes to correct. If you think you may have either medial or lateral epicondylitis or have been told you have golfers or tennis elbow, give us a call at 905-845-2291 or visit our website at www.oakvillechiropractic.com.
Dr. Phil Wessel