4 Easy Steps To Fix Tennis Elbow!

Lateral elbow pain is more popularly termed “tennis elbow.” Tennis Elbow affects 2% of the general population, and while that sounds like a relatively low number, it will affect upwards of 50% of tennis players at some point during their playing career! Hence the name.

The commonality among tennis players is no mistake. The sport places a tremendous load on the lateral elbow. While it’s incredibly common, resolution of the problem is often frustrating for both patient and provider. The problem with fixing tennis elbow is that the condition is commonly misdiagnosed. Incorrect diagnosis leads to incorrect treatment, and as you may already know, prolonged and worsening symptoms.

Fortunately, fixing this issue can be found with 4 easy steps!

STEP 1: GET THE RIGHT DIAGNOSIS! Tennis elbow is generally categorized as a tendinitis. Classic tendinitis is an inflammatory condition. The problem is that most lateral elbow pain is NOT inflammatory! It’s degenerative! It is actually a term called tendinosis. Treating lateral elbow pain as tendinitis will make tendinosis worse!

Classic treatment of tendinitis, using rest, ice, and NSAIDS or cortisone actually leads to more degeneration and is putting you at risk for more significant injury, like ruptured tendons! It bears repeating, but cortisone and NSAIDS are a REALLY bad idea in this situation!  In fact one more recent study showed that those using cortisone for treatment of musculoskeletal conditions were WORSE than those who did absolutely nothing at all after 1 year.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at the study here.

STEP 2: REST! I know I just told you rest is a bad idea. Prolonged rest is bad. Short term rest isn’t. It is often necessary during step 3.  Also avoid any painful movements during this time and use a brace as needed.  All this helps to unload the injured area.

STEP 3: TREAT ADHESION. Lateral elbow pain is often caused by overuse/repetitive trauma. The most common result of overuse in the body is adhesion. Adhesion acts like glue on muscles and tendons and doesn’t allow things to move like they should. It’s the most common cause of pain and limited range of motion in the body, yet it is also the most misdiagnosed and mistreated condition! Very few providers know what adhesion is. Even less know how to actually treat it. Making sure to find a provider that knows how to diagnose and treat this condition is vital to your recovery!  If you are lucky enough to have an Integrative Diagnosis provider in your area, they are the absolute best at treating this condition.  You can check your area by clicking the link here.

STEP 4: ECCENTRIC EXERCISE. Once adhesion is removed and the tissue is healthy enough for more activity. Eccentric exercise, a very specific type of exercise needs to be started. This type of exercise specifically targets the tendon for repair.

 

If you have been struggling to find relief from lateral elbow and been diagnosed with tendinitis, most likely the diagnosis was wrong! You need a second opinion! You need the help of a soft tissue expert!  Find help, follow these steps, get relief now!

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The providers at Thrive Spine and Sport in Cedar Rapids are certified through Integrative Diagnosis. Integrative Diagnosis is the most advanced diagnosis and treatment system for the diagnosis and treatment of soft tissue injury. If you have tried other providers without finding relief, we invite you to call our office today at 319-423-0925 or request an appointment by clicking here => www.thrivespineandsport.com/appointment-request.

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Is It Tendinitis?

Tendinitis and tendinosis. One you’ve probably heard before.  The other, probably not. While they both sound the same, in reality they are worlds apart.

Tendinitis is, by definition, inflammation of a tendon.  Tendinosis on the other hand is defined as chronic tendinitis and implies chronic tendon degeneration without the presence of inflammation. Basically, one is short-term with inflammation, the other long-term, without inflammation, though both are caused typically by overuse.

soccerTendinitis, the most popular diagnosis of the two, usually presents with swelling and tenderness at the sight of pain, often accompanied by stiffness, and less often by weakness. Tendinosis presents most often with stiffness, tenderness to the touch, and weakness–almost identical to tendinitis. Recovery of tendinitis lasts anywhere from days to six weeks, a relatively “quick fix.” Tendinosis recovery can last a few short weeks to a couple months or more depending on the level of degeneration. If left untreated, tendinosis often leads to “tear” injuries.

While both conditions are classically treated with conservative measures, the difference in care is absolutely critical to resolution of the problem. Conservative management stems around rest and anti-inflammatory medication for tendinitis, while conservative management of tendinosis aims to restore tendon regrowth and strength through manual therapy and eccentric exercise.

Both, occur most often in the Achilles tendon (ankle), patellar tendon (knee), proximal hamstring (high hamstring), common extensor tendon (elbow), and the supraspinatus tendon (shoulder).

With both of these problems being so relatively close, while treatment is vastly different, proper diagnosis is vital to the recovery process! So which one do you have? Let’s go to the research.

While tendinitis is the wildly over-popular diagnosis among general practitioners, it may not be the case. Most research coming out on this topic is now showing that at a cellular level, once believed tendinitis actually is, in fact, tendinosis.

According to Almekinders and Temple, “Most currently practicing general practitioners were taught, and many still believe, that patients who present with overuse tendinitis have a largely inflammatory condition and will benefit from anti-inflammatory medication. Unfortunately this dogma is deeply entrenched. Ten of 11 readily available sports medicine texts specifically recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs despite the lack of clinical evidence.”

In light of this, chances are that if you have been diagnosed with tendinitis the diagnosis was incorrect. Furthermore, traditional, conservative treatment, of such, with the use of anti-inflammatories, corticosteroid injections, and/or pain medication may have left you worse off long term even though pain may have dissipated short term (but this conversation is for a different time). These methods were designed to eliminate inflammation, not regrow tendon. As mentioned above, treatment of tendinosis should be aimed at restoring tendon function and strength through manual therapy and eccentric exercise. Drugs will not help! Treatment should also include load management when deemed necessary.

With all this said, while we cannot assume a diagnosis was incorrect, lingering, worsening, or reoccurrence of pain would suggest that it may in fact be tendinosis. It is recommended that treatment plans geared toward tendinitis, in these cases, be reevaluated.

Tendinitis is one of the most commonly diagnosed injuries and all too many struggle to find relief. With the proper diagnosis and treatment plan, it doesn’t have to be that way!

At Thrive Spine and Sport, we specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, including tendinitis and tendinosis.  Most patients have seen many different providers before finding relief in our office.  Fill out the appointment request on this page or call our office at 319-423-0925 to set up an appointment today!

Thanks for reading!