Tennis elbow, or as it is known in the medical world, lateral epicondylitis, is a very common condition characterized by elbow pain on the outside aspect of the forearm. Despite the name, it has become extremely common with those who do a lot of keyboard and mouse work on their computer. The muscles are sliding back and forth and not going through a full range of motion, this creates inflammation and build-up of waste products of metabolism. Our body responds by laying down scar tissue which then causes structures to adhere to each other.
Tennis elbow is an overuse injury of muscles that originate at the elbow, specifically the ECRB (extensor carpi radialis brevis), however, the ECRL (extensor carpi radialis longus) can be involved too. There has been “cumulative micro-trauma” during repetitive use of the forearm and the resulting scar tissue formation within and around the muscle creates tension and pain. This particular muscle seems to be susceptible because, relative to the ECRL, it has a smaller attachment to the bone at this point and is therefore not as strong and able to withstand the same stresses placed upon it.
Home care for tennis elbow involves rest, ice, stretching (here’s some stretches and exercises) and use of a velcro brace that goes around the area that can help to off-load the muscle. Tennis elbow treatment includes myofascial release of the muscle(s) and FAKTR protocol as appropriate for the stage of the injury. Laser therapy can help speed the healing process as it excites the cells responsible for healing. Finally, kinesiology taping can help to off-load the area and pull the tissues to further aid healing. The problem usually is resolved in 3 or 4 visits.