Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is an inflammation of the muscles that connect the forearm with the outside of the elbow. This is a painful condition that begins with tenderness in the elbow area, and develops into sharp pain that can run all the way down the forearm and even into the middle and ring fingers. The pain is usually aggravated by certain movements including turning the palm upward, bending the wrist backward, or holding something with a stiff wrist or straight elbow. Mobile physical therapy can often be used to help the patient recover without the need for surgery, or as a post-surgical treatment to help accelerate recovery.
What Causes Tennis Elbow?
As the name implies, tennis elbow can result from overuse of the backhand swing in tennis, putting too much strain on the muscles and tendons in the forearm and elbow. There are several other ways to develop this condition that do not involve tennis, however. Some of the most common include:
- Playing racquetball
- Playing golf
- Playing sports that involve throwing
- Painting with a brush or roller
- Operating a chainsaw
- Using any number of small tools
Basically, any activity that puts repeated stress on the muscles and tendons in the forearm and elbow can cause this condition.
How Physical Therapy Provides Relief for Tennis Elbow
If you opt for physical therapy as an alternative to surgery, the goal of the therapist will be to help your tendon heal by keeping the collagen in your tendon from breaking down further. This may involve the application of ice, electrostimulation, and a series of highly targeted exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the forearm muscles. In many cases, patients can start to see relief within about four to six weeks.
Recovery times vary, however, depending on the severity of the injury and the commitment of the patient to keep their appointments and follow through on their exercises. When physical therapy is used after surgery, recovery times are typically longer (up to six months or more). This is because following surgery, your elbow is placed in a removable 90-degree angle splint, and it can only tolerate light exercise for a while.
The Advantages Mobile Physical Therapy for Tennis Elbow
Patients suffering from tennis elbow can receive physical therapy at a hospital or clinic, or they can opt for mobile therapy. With mobile physical therapy, the therapist can administer treatment in the comfort of your own home or office. This can be a much more convenient option for many patients.
When you have tennis elbow, it can be very difficult to drive. This means in order to keep your therapy appointments; you need to get your family or friends to drive you there, or take public transportation. With any type of physical therapy, keeping your appointments is critical, because you need to maintain (and continue to build upon) your exercises to gain strength. Because mobile physical therapists come to you, your chances of missing these appointments is significantly reduced, putting you in the best possible position to make a speedy recovery.