Tennis Elbow Treatment
ESWT for lateral epicondylitis
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy, or ESWT, was first developed in the 1990’s as a treatment for kidney stones. Now researchers have found this treatment effective in treating tennis elbow. When physical therapy, NSAIDS, or rest and ice fail to alleviate this painful condition, doctors have typically used surgery as the next option. However, with ESWT, treatment is applied in only one session, in the doctor’s office, lasting only twenty minutes. Lateral epicondylitis, or “tennis elbow,” is a result of repetitive movements of the forearm muscles. You don’t need to be a tennis player to suffer from it; tennis elbow is a common workplace or athletic injury. The primary symptom is pain on the outside of the elbow caused by inflammation of ligaments and degeneration of tissue around the joint. This makes twisting movements and lifting objects particularly painful. Tennis elbow usually starts out mild and worsens over time. Chronic sufferers can have disabling pain that rarely relents. Reaching and gripping motions, such as in shaking hands or opening jars, is especially painful. Lifting and carrying even a cup of coffee or gallon of milk are also painful for the person affected with this condition.
Signs and symptoms:Inability to extend the forearm fully without discomfort.
- Pain caused by lifting, bending the arm or grasping even light objects.
- Trigger point elbow tenderness.
- Recurring pain on the outside of the upper forearm just below the bend of the elbow.
- Pain that radiates down the arm toward the wrist.
- Pain when shaking hands, turning door knobs, or lifting a grocery bag.
- Muscle weakness in shoulder, forearm, and wrist.
- Occasional muscle spasms in lower arm.
Treatment with ESWTDuring the session, you comfortably recline while the elbow is placed on a warm water bubble and covered with gel. The injured area is viewed with diagnostic ultrasound. Then, we then deliver tiny little pressure waves or “shockwaves” to the injured area. Healing occurs gradually over the next 6-12 weeks. Approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence for use on tennis elbow one year ago, we are happy to make this treatment available to you. Call our office today to begin experiencing the relief this treatment offers in one short session.
Tennis Elbow FAQs
What is tennis elbow?Tennis elbow is technically known as lateral epicondylitis. It’s chronic, painful condition which affects the outside of the elbow. Usually it’s felt as a sharp, often severe elbow pain just below the elbow joint, especially with movements of the forearm, elbow, and hand. Even without movement, patients often feel an achy pain, again sometimes severe. Lateral epicondylitis is an overuse injury, a type of injury that often takes years to develop, and tends to get progressively worse without treatment—other common overuse injuries include plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and various types of bursitis. This is an extremely common elbow injury. Note that chronic pain on the outside of the elbow, especially with use, is called golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis.
What are symptoms of tennis elbow? How does it feel?Here are the most common symptoms of tennis elbow. Remember that there can be other symptoms, so be sure to talk to our doctors at Sound Medical in Pittsburgh.
- A sharp, achy, or burning pain on the outside of the elbow, usually just below the joint, especially when moving the elbow. Movements and activities which trigger this include: picking up objects, bending the elbow either way (elbow flexion and extension, making a fist, bending the wrist, or using the muscles of the forearm. Even simple actions like shaking hands or picking up grocery bags can cause extreme tennis elbow pain.
- A duller, achy pain in this same area. It is sometimes constant.
- Forearm pain radiating from the side of the upper part of the forearm all the way to the wrist—especially with movement (using the forearm muscles). Tennis elbow is a common forearm injury.
- A tender “trigger point” in the muscles just below the elbow joint. This will hurt more when the patient presses on it.
- Weakness of the muscles in the wrist, the forearm, or even the shoulder. Forearm muscle weakness is a common symptom of tennis elbow in Cranberry patients.
- Muscle spasms anywhere along the affected arm.