• Dr. Thomas Harvey

How Chiropractic Care Can Help With Tennis Elbow

Updated: Oct 6

Tennis elbow is a more common affliction than its name suggests. Far from being limited to those lobbing volleys across a net, the condition effects nearly 3% of the population worldwide. Fortunately, advances in chiropractic care have led to a variety of effective treatments for this malady.

To best understand and appreciate the efficacy of these treatment methods, an understanding of the injury's nature is required.

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI). As the name suggests, such injuries are the result of the excessive repetition of certain motions. It is called tennis elbow because it is very common among players of the sport, due to the thousands of forceful, repeated racket swings their arms perform.

The scientific name refers to the lateral epicondyle, the bony bump on the outside of the elbow. Ligaments and tendons of the forearm attach to the humerus bone at that location.

When subjected to repetitive motions, the muscles and tendons of the forearm become strained. This leads to the inflammation and swelling responsible for the pain in the elbow, forearm, and wrist that are the primary symptoms of tennis elbow. The swelling can also pinch nerves in the joint, causing numbness and limiting range of motion.

How Can Chiropractic Care Help?

Chiropractic treatment of tennis elbow begins with a careful diagnosis, drawing on the practitioner's expert knowledge of joint related injuries. Via examination, they can rule out synovitis, torn ligaments, arthritis, and other conditions.

Once a clear diagnosis has been made, a chiropractor has access to many tools and methods that can successfully treat tennis elbow.

Myofascial Release

This technique involves the slow application of gentle pressure to the fascia, the connective tissue surrounding the muscles and organs. Doing so removes fascial restrictions caused by inflammation, which can relieve the pressure responsible for much of the pain caused by the injury.

Cross Fiber Manipulation

Muscles, ligaments, and tendons are made up of fibrous tissue that is organized uniformly, lengthwise. Cross fiber manipulation is a massage technique involving the application of pressure and friction across this grain. The aim is to prevent tissue that is healing from developing scar tissue that causes the fibers to adhere to one another.

This is particularly useful in treating tennis elbow. Strained muscles are actually damaged by micro tears. As they heal, scar tissue can develop that lessens the flexibility of the muscle, impairing performance permanently. This treatment can prevent that.

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Manipulation (IASTM)

Using specialized tools, a chiropractor can apply the effects of cross fiber manipulation with pinpoint accuracy. Moreover, in instances where lateral epicondylitis has already begun to heal poorly, these instruments can be utilized to reset the healing process.

By administering micro traumas to the effected area, the scar tissue can be broken down. With regular treatment, the body will repair itself with the mobility of the tissue fibers intact.

There are more relevant techniques than just those mentioned above. Some chiropractic practices employ acupuncture, ultrasound, and lasers. There are numerous stretching maneuvers and massage methods that can facilitate recovery from the injury in question.

Which methods a particular chiropractor might employ depends upon the individual diagnosis. However, the sheer multitude of proven treatments suggest that there may be no better form of treatment for tennis elbow than chiropractic care.


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