An elbow injury can be one of the most difficult injuries to diagnose and treat because it is a joint that connects two other joints. The pain might seem like it’s coming from the shoulder, but in some cases you could have an issue with your forearm or wrist as well. That being said, there are certain symptoms that need immediate attention from a doctor if they show up:
Myth 1: Tennis elbow is caused by inflammation.
Lateral epicondylitis is another name for tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is a degenerative process of the ECRB (extensor carpi radialis brevis) tendon at the elbow, and the word “itis” in the name often gives the impression that it is an inflammatory condition.
Our tendons degenerate as we age, but in some cases, this degeneration can be haphazard and painful for some people.
Myth 2: Tennis elbow does not improve on its own.
Tennis elbow is a degenerative condition that is aggravated by repetitive activities such as work or sports, as previously stated.
Tennis elbow is a middle-aged condition that is rarely seen in the elderly.
Avoiding aggravating factors can often improve the condition, but the natural history of the disease shows that, in most studies, tennis elbow improves in 80-90 percent of patients after a year without treatment.
Myth 3: Tennis elbow splints are ineffective.
Tennis elbow splints are inexpensive and, when worn and used correctly, can be very effective in managing the symptoms of tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow splints work by relieving pressure on the elbow’s diseased tendon attachment. Splints must be worn on the forearm, away from the elbow, and correctly over the ECRB tendon to achieve this. The correct positioning is frequently specified on the package leaflet.
Splints are intended to offload the tendon during repetitive aggravating activities such as work or sport if they cannot be avoided; however, splints should only be worn during activity and not all of the time.
Myth 4: Physiotherapy for tennis elbow doesn’t work
The only treatment that has been proven to be better than the natural history (no treatment) of tennis elbow is physiotherapy.
The wrist extensors should be strengthened during physiotherapy, which is usually done as part of a 12-week strengthening exercise program.
Other newer physiotherapy approaches give patients a warm-up exercise program to do before work and during breaks, allowing them to continue the repetitive aggravating movements that they may not be able to avoid.
Myth 5: The best way to treat tennis elbow is with steroid injections.
For a long time, steroid injections were the standard treatment for tennis elbow symptoms.
Steroids normally work by reducing inflammation, but they also weaken tendons as a side effect.
Several recent research studies have now shown that, while steroid injections can improve the symptoms of tennis elbow within the first 6 weeks, patients’ pain returned a year later, and those who received steroid injections were worse than those who did not receive any treatment.
The pain you feel in your elbow could be a sign that there is something wrong. We can help find the root cause of your discomfort so you can get back to enjoying life without any worries. Contact us today for an appointment, and let’s talk about what might be causing this pain.
Dr. Chen sees patients at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital Center for Sports Medicine in Walnut Creek, California. He is a board certified Pediatrician and Sports Medicine Doctor that specializes in the non-operative medical treatment of a wide variety of various musculoskeletal conditions. Dr. Chen graduated from St. George’s University School of Medicine and went on to complete Pediatric residency training at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey (Rutgers), then went on to fellowship training in Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, one of the perennially top ranked children’s hospitals in the nation. There he provided sideline coverage for NCAA Division I athletics at the University of Cincinnati and Miami University (OH). Since graduating, Dr. Chen has continued his love of sports coverage by volunteering for the San Francisco Marathon, the San Francisco Giant Race, and as the team physician for Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. Being a part of The Center for Sports Medicine allows Dr. Chen quick access to a multidisciplinary team of orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, physiatrists, and physical therapists to return you to your highest functional level quickly and safely. Click here to contact us for your next appointment!