An Overview

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.

What Are Causes Of Tennis Elbow?

If you are suffering from tennis elbow then you don’t have to investigate too much for its cause since, only repetitive strenuous activity is the main cause of tennis elbow.

When this happens you may develop some tears and experience inflammation in your elbow.

Tennis elbow usually appears when you suddenly do an activity you never did, your elbows aren’t used to that activity or if you use your forearm muscle too frequently.

What Activities Have Higher Risk Of Tennis Elbow?

Any activity that forces you to use your elbow repetitively can cause you tennis elbow, some activities that can make this more happen to you include:

  • Using gardening tools often
  • Playing games like tennis and badminton too much, you should take rest after playing
  • Excess typing or using mouse can also cause this problem
  • Playing violin may also cause problems since it’s a repetitive activity

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 ESWT

During 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.

Is Tennis Elbow Preventable?

Yes, you can easily prevent this elbow pain without any kind of problem since all you need to do is avoid the activity that causes you this pain!

However, only one tip isn’t enough, therefore here are some more tips to help you prevent tennis elbow:

  • Use lightweight tools for gardening or any other work
  • If any activity causes pain then stop doing it right away or try to find another way to do it.
  • Try to increase the strength if your forearm and elbow, some exercises can help you achieve this
  • Receive advices from your coach, this may help you get to know about right technique.
  • Before starting any repetitive activity do not forget to warm up properly and take a proper rest after you are done.
  • Apply ice to your elbow or forearm after the activity, or you can apply heat too
  • Change height of your keyboard and mouse

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.

PRP for tennis elbow

While ESWT is the Gold Standard and best noninvasive treatment for tennis elbow, new research has been done with the use of PRP for this condition.

A PRP treatment involves a series of injections directly into damaged tissue. As mentioned, platelets are covered in naturally occurring chemicals vital to this healing response. It is this characteristic that Regenerative Medicine relies upon when using PRP to treat chronic musculoskeletal conditions. The injections trigger a powerful healing response which can last for weeks or months. Often this is enough to force the body to finish incomplete or poor-quality healing. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a great example. It’s a very common condition which can persist for years through varying cycles of flare-ups and die-downs. The underlying problem is the accumulation of small amounts of damage in the ligaments of the elbow. After some time, the ligaments are in a constant state of inflammation and the patient begins to experience pain.