First, a little explanation. Lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, is inflammation at the lateral epicondyle of the elbow that causes pain in that distinct location as well as radiating into the forearm. Where is the lateral epicondyle, you may ask? Well turn your hand palm up, find your elbow, and look for the knobby spot on the outside of the arm. If you have sharp pain there, you may have lateral epicondylitis.
But why does tennis get all the credit for causing this pain? It’s true that tennis is a sport with repetitive movements that can cause this inflammation, but more often than not it’s other movement. Any kind of repetitive motion that can cause it! A lot of people with jobs that involve repetitive lifting (packaging, working on a line, etc) are succeptible to lateral epicondylitis. This is not only an athletic injury – thus my proposal of “activity elbow”. It’s more inclusive!
If you feel like you may have pain in the region that I described and are guilty of performing a lot of repetitive upper extremity movement, watch the above YouTube video to see demonstrations of some exercises that may help. Here are some more in-depth descriptions of the recommended exercises:
One thing that is super important with lateral epicondylitis is to rest it. The inflammation was caused in the first place because of overuse, so this is your body’s warning shot to take it easy. If possible, take a break from the activity that caused it to flare up in the first place. If this isn’t an option, think of ways or talk to your physical therapist or medical professional about ways you can modify your activity to decrease the stress on that elbow. It’s amazing how a small change in the way you move can yield big results. PTs are pretty obsessed with body mechanics for exactly this reason.
We do all these exercises and more at my clinic in Troy, Michigan! Feel free to reach out with any questions, future blog suggestions, or to schedule an appointment to reduce your pain!