If you’re a tennis player, you know the importance of keeping your arm in top condition. But what happens when you start to experience pain in your elbow? This is tennis elbow, and it can be a real nuisance. The good news is that physical therapy can help. In this blog post, we’ll explain what tennis elbow is and how physical therapy can help you find relief.
What is Tennis Elbow and What are the Symptoms
Tennis elbow is a painful condition from stress on the tendons surrounding the elbow. Despite its name, it doesn’t occur in tennis players alone. Any repetitive movements on the elbow causing inflammation may lead to tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow is common in people who work manual labor jobs with repetitive motions. Plumbers, painters, mechanics and carpenters often struggle with the pain of tennis elbow. Golfers, as well as tennis players, may also experience this common condition.
Symptoms of tennis elbow include radiating pain from the outside of the elbow, through the forearm and wrist. Simple, daily movements like opening a door and pouring coffee may become difficult. Grip weakness combined with pain in these areas is a red flag. If you’re experiencing this on a regular basis, it’s time to see your doctor.
How Physical Therapy Helps Treat Tennis Elbow
After receiving a tennis elbow diagnosis, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help, but physical therapy may reduce pain long term.
Your physical therapist will work with you to build muscle strength and flexibility. You’ll learn exercises that restore grip strength, wrist flexion/extension and build forearm muscles.
How to Prevent Recurrence of Tennis Elbow
Many patients who come to physical therapy for tennis elbow need to reduce pain to do their jobs effectively. Because of this, it’s important to maintain a wellness plan to avoid a recurrence in the future. Your physical therapist can provide you with an action plan when the pain starts to creep back in. This may include a combination of rest, ice, heat and compression.
Speak with your physical therapist about a maintenance exercise and strength regime. This will help you maintain the strength you built up during your time in PT. There are many simple exercises you can do from home without a lot of equipment.
3 Simple Exercises for Tennis Elbow
Each of these three simple exercises for tennis elbow can be done from home, using a towel.
1. Hand Grip with Towel
Rest forearm on the table, palm facing down. Place a small towel under the palm of the hand. Keeping your forearm and wrist still, grab the towel. Continue to squeeze the towel into a ball. Gently release and squeeze ten times. Repeat 3 times with each hand.
2. Double Hand Towel Twist
Grip towel in both hands, palms facing down, shoulder width distance apart, elbows bent. Keep shoulders still, twist right handed grip up while lowering left wrist down. This works the flexion/ extension in the wrists and forearm flexibility and strength.
3. Wrist Stretch
Place the towel aside. Straighten right arm in front and flex wrist, fingers pointing up. Using the left hand, gently apply pressure to the right palm. You should feel a stretch to the posterior side of the forearm. Reverse the stretch. Point fingers down, pressing again and stretching the anterior side of the forearm. Repeat stretching the left arm.
If you are experiencing any symptoms associated with tennis elbow, seek medical attention. Physical therapy is an effective treatment to help you return to your regular activities. Our team at ProHealth Physical Therapy is happy to work with you one-on-one. We’ll develop a treatment plan and reduce your risk of recurrence. In the meantime, try these three exercises to help reduce pain and discomfort from tennis elbow. Call ProHealth today at 770-487-1931.