Epicondylitis, epicondylalgia or “tennis elbow” is an injury that causes pain in the lateral aspect of the elbow produced by repetitive microtraumatisms due to muscular overloads and efforts, which leads to irritation and degeneration of the tendon insertions of the elbow.
It is a very common pathology especially in people who practice racquet sports, although it is also common in jobs that involve an overuse of the forearm muscles such as when using a hammer, wringing a cloth or even the continued use of the mouse for the computer.
Diagnosis of epicondylitis:
It is always necessary to make a correct anamnesis where to find out the anomalous postural movement triggering the injury. Palpation, orthopedic tests that indicate pathology and above all, it will be confirmed with an imaging test such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging.
Symptoms of epicondylitis:
- Pain on palpation and contraction in the elbow bone.
- Radiating pain throughout the arm and hand.
- Functional impotence.
- Loss of strength.
- Nocturnal and morning pain.
- Inflammation in the epicondyle.
Origin and causes of epicondylitis:
- Repeated movements in flexion, shoulder abduction.
- Beginning of intense activity after a period of inactivity.
- Trauma or direct blow on the elbow.
Treatment for epicondylitis:
It is essential to correct the cause that provoked the inflammation, usually it is a poorly executed technical sports gesture, a bad postural habit at work, etc. First we will focus the treatment on reducing inflammation, reduce pain and restore muscle and joint balance in the area. Once achieved, we will make a sports or work readaptation plan. There are different techniques for this, among which the following stand out:
- Manual therapy
- Intratissue percutaneous electrolysis (EPI).
- Dry needling
- Shock waves
- Therapeutic exercise.
It should be noted that EPI and shock wave techniques have shown great efficacy for treatment, avoiding, in severe cases, possible surgery.
Recovery of epicondylitis
It will depend on the degree of injury, the causes that provoked it and the time that the patient has had it, as well as the regenerative capacity that the patient has in front of the lesional processes. All this can cause the recovery to take place in 2-3 weeks or 1-2 months. Although statistically speaking the most frequent is 6 weeks.
EPICONDYLITIS. FREQUENT QUESTIONS
What does the body’s regenerative capacity depend on?
The healing of an injury or physical pathology is the responsibility of our body, in it there are some automatic mechanisms that are activated when we lose the normal physical or organic balance. These mechanisms are complex and depend largely on metabolism (biochemical, hormonal and neuronal processes). If these mechanisms work at 100%, we will be protected from a large number of impacts that our body may suffer at different levels (physical, emotional, biochemical and energetic) but if these mechanisms are diminished in their function, the ability of recovery and regeneration of our cells will be compromised, and may block the healing processes to an illness or injury temporarily or permanently.
This will be very important to take into account when treating any injury or pathology, otherwise the patient will be able to perform multiple physical treatments on an injury without obtaining results.
How is the treatment planning?
The planning of this type of therapy is always personalized, giving priority in the early stages of treatment to reduce pain, inflammation and improve the mechanical and metabolic factors that have caused the injury.
If we have to focus especially on the latter (because there is evidence of a deficit of function in the patient’s tissue regeneration mechanisms) then we will first set a guideline for the patient to perform at home for 3-6 weeks consistently:
- Improved dietary hygiene
- Natural supplementation: Detoxifying-anti-inflammatory-regenerating.
Subsequently, we will begin with the Advanced Physiotherapy and Functional Training plan.
Should I suspend my professional or sporting activity?
It will depend on each case, if the professional or sporting gesture has not intervened in the appearance of the injury, there will be no reason to suspend it, but if not, the efforts will have to be graduated.
How many sessions do I need to start noticing improvement?
It depends on each case, but normally with the use of state-of-the-art therapies such as those applied in Corporis the improvement is felt from the first session. Between 3 and 7 sessions may be necessary for complete recovery.
How much time should pass between sessions?
It will depend on each case, the most common is to perform one to two sessions per week.
Can emotional stress cause this injury?
Yes, sometimes there are no physical or metabolic factors important enough to justify the appearance of this injury, however there are psychic factors.
To help the body stop generating this irritation/inflammation of nerve fibers causing pain, it is very important that the patient becomes aware of the relationship between stress-injury and try to establish strategies to reduce the impact of stress on the body.
For this purpose, tools such as Coaching and Clinical Psychology are of great help.
This post is also available in: Spanish
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