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What Is Rehab For Tennis Elbow?

What Is Rehab For Tennis Elbow

Rehabilitation (rehab) for tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a comprehensive program aimed at reducing pain, promoting healing, improving function, and preventing recurrence. Tennis elbow is a condition that involves inflammation and microtears in the tendons of the forearm muscles, specifically the extensor carpi radialis brevis tendon.

The rehab program for tennis elbow typically involves the following components…

  1. Rest and Activity Modification – Initially, resting the affected arm and avoiding activities that worsen the pain, such as gripping and repetitive forearm movements, is crucial to allow the inflamed tendons to heal.
  2. Ice Therapy – Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Cold packs can be applied for 15-20 minutes several times a day, especially after activities.
  3. Pain Management – Over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended to manage pain and inflammation. Yet, it’s necessary to follow the guidance of a healthcare professional when using medication.
  4. Physical Therapy – A physical therapist can play a significant role in tennis elbow rehab. They will perform a thorough evaluation and design a personalized treatment plan. Physical therapy may include…
    • Stretching exercises to improve flexibility in the forearm muscles.
    • Strengthening exercises for the forearm muscles to enhance their support to the elbow joint.
    • Eccentric exercises, where the muscles are lengthened under resistance, have shown to be particularly beneficial for tennis elbow.
    • Manual therapy techniques to address any joint or soft tissue restrictions.
    • Ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or other modalities to aid in pain relief and tissue healing.
  5. Bracing or Strapping – Wearing a brace or strap around the forearm can help alleviate stress on the affected tendon and provide support during activities.
  6. Ergonomic Assessment – For those whose tennis elbow is related to occupational or daily activities, an ergonomic assessment may be helpful to identify and modify any contributing factors.
  7. Activity Gradual Return – As symptoms improve, gradually reintroduce activities that were previously avoided, but with careful attention to proper technique and form.
  8. Home Exercise Program – Patients are often given a home exercise program to continue their prescribed exercises between therapy sessions.

The duration of the rehab program for tennis elbow can vary depending on the individual’s response to treatment and the severity of the condition. Some people may experience significant improvement within a few weeks of diligent rehabilitation, while others may require more extended periods of care. The key to successful rehab is adherence to the prescribed program, as well as addressing any contributing factors to prevent recurrence.

It’s necessary to work with a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist or orthopedic specialist, to develop a tailored rehab plan suited to your specific needs and condition.