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Tips for Tennis and Golfer Elbow

Many of you have probably heard of tennis and golfer’s elbow. With summer right around the corner, it might be a good idea to know if you do start to get it. Now first of all, what are these conditions? Can you get these conditions even if you don’t play tennis or golf? YES! Both of these can occur when there is inflammation at our elbow, often caused by overuse of the joint.

Tennis elbow will be painful near the lateral (outside) of the elbow while Golfers elbow will have pain on the medial (inside) of the elbow. With both of these conditions pain is usually worse with forceful gripping. It can even be brought on with normal tasks like carrying groceries or a suitcase. Many times these injuries start after an increase in working, where you have a lot of gripping and carrying involved. These activities can involve painting, gardening, using power tools, like drills and trimmers, for long periods of time.

These activities place a lot of demand on the muscles and tendons that start at the elbow. When the demand is more than the tendon can handle that is when the pain begins. With irritation you may notice weakness and difficulty doing normal daily tasks, even lifting a gallon of milk could be challenging.

So what can you do if you start to notice these symptoms.

First we need to stop what is causing the irritation. If that is golf or tennis you may need to take a little break. If you are painting your house, hopefully you can finish or can ask for some help.

If you are going to be doing things that may cause irritation, you’ll need to stretch well prior to the activity and take regular rest breaks to stretch again.

Here are some great stretches to do! Do these 3 times each holding the stretch to 30 seconds each time:

Here are some other tips to do with heavy chores or activities.

  1. Avoid repetitive wrist motion. If you are going to have to use a leaf blower or trimmer try and use your body to move it as opposed to your wrists.

  2. If painting, hammering or building something take frequent breaks, which may make the job take a little longer.

  3. If computer work is aggravating try to use your shoulder to move the mouse not your wrist.

  4. Try to not have your wrist and elbow extended (fully straight) like when bike riding or pulling luggage.

  5. While gardening try and use good tools that have adequate handles and are in good repair.

  6. When lifting try and use both arms to avoid too much strain on one side.

  7. Ice may be helpful after activity to reduce pain and inflammation.

  8. Remember pain is your body's way of telling you something is going on.

When should you seek treatment and what will treatment entail?

If you have tried all of these things and you are not getting relief it is probably time to see a physical therapist. The main goals of treatment will be to relieve the pain, restore flexibility and strength, and modify activities that may be the cause of the pain.

Some treatments that may be recommended are Functional Dry Needling. Dry Needling will use a thin filiform needle that is inserted into the muscles in that area. The purpose of this treatment is to reduce pain and to improve muscular flexibility. Another treatment is the use of a metal or plastic tool that can be used to increase blood flow to the area and can also help restore flexibility.

Curious to know if any of these treatment options are right for you? Contact us at Wasatch Physical Therapy for a free 15 minute screening!

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