Is elbow or forearm pain getting in the way of your tennis game? Have you noticed that the same part of your swing or serve is painful time and time again, and that your pain tends to creep back even after resting for a week or two? Most likely, you are suffering from what is known as lateral epicondylosis (commonly known as tennis elbow.) To better understand this pathology, let’s breakdown the terminology:
“Lateral” = outer or away from the centerline of the body. In this case, it refers to the area of your arm that is your outer elbow.
“Epicondyle” = the bony parts of the humerus (upper arm bone), from which the wrist flexor muscles(medial epicondlye) and wrist extensor muscles (lateral epicondyle) originate.
And the finishing touch…
“-osis” = degeneration of (the tendons of the involved muscles).
It is important to note that “-osis” is different from “-itis”. How many times have you heard a friend or family member say they have been diagnosed with tendinitis? Rotator cuff tendinitis, elbow tendinitis, and tendinitis of the knee are some of the common diagnoses tossed around. Technically, it’s not an “-itis” in the absence of inflammation. So if your elbow hurts a lot, but isn’t swollen per se, what exactly is happening?
Any time a muscle is overworked (repetitive motions, repeated contractions) or acutely injured (fall or collision causing a tear or crush), it receives a decreased amount of bloodflow (read: oxygen flow). If this condition continues, the hypoxia (lack or oxygen flow) causes adhesions to form in the muscles. These are sticky areas, almost as if someone poured glue into the muscle, which limit range of motion and cause pain. Adhesions remain until they are treated. Rest, ice, stretching, and ibuprofen will not make them go away! You may get some temporary relief, but once you resume your activities, the issue will make itself known once again.
The most effective way to treat the muscle adhesions that cause tennis elbow is to receive Active Release Techniques (ART) treatments. Active Release Techniques is a hands-on soft tissue treatment system, which involves shortening a muscle, the practitioner taking a thumb or hand contact on the adhesion, and then lengthening the muscle to break down the adhesion. This is a 100% natural treatment approach, which allows you to spare the stress and cost associated with drugs and surgery.
Your Active Release Techniques practitioner will address adhesions in the muscles of your arm and forearm, and will evaluate your spine and shoulders to check for biomechanical issues or further soft tissue adhesions that were likely causing the problem to begin with. Typical treatment plans for tennis elbow generally span about twelve visits, with many people enjoying significant relief after the first several treatments. Your ART practitioner can also prescribe specific rehabilitation exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles typically overused in tennis, so that there will be a lower probability of this injury returning.