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Physical Therapy Exercises For Tennis Elbow

Physical Therapies for Tennis Elbow  When dealing with tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) there are a number of options when it comes to what types of physical therapy are available. Some of the exercises and therapies can be performed by your self and others are performed by professional therapists.

Therapy and exercises basically come in two separate sections but when combined they provide for a synergistic result which often means that the injured site will heal much faster with greater mobility and flexibility achieved.

Some of the different physical therapies include the use of machines to help to alleviate pain and discomfort these include:

Ultrasound  Ultrasound treatment  produces deep heat from the scanner to the injured area and increases the blood flow to the injured tissues resulting in greater flexibility, faster removal of the built up toxins in the elbow joint and a decrease in pain and muscle spasm.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nervous Stimulation  Electrical stimulation  TENS machines- are known to be very effective in helping pain. If applied early enough they provide an effective natural pain management technique for women in labour. These machines work by passing a mild continuous electrical current through electrodes placed at nerve trigger points. This current stimulates the receptors to send signals to the brain to block it sending back messages to the pain receptors.

Massage  Massage reduces the formation of scar tissue, helps new blood vessels grow in damaged tissues, improves the blood circulation to the area and improves the lymph flow to and from the damaged tissues. Massaging can be done by yourself or you can pay to have a therapeutic massage, such as an aromatherapy massage. An aromatherapy massage also has the added benefits of using oils that will ease pain, reduced inflammation and regenerate cell tissues.

Manual Therapy  Manual therapies are done by the therapist using slow careful movements to twist, pull and push joints and bones back into their correct positions to increase the mobility of the joint and ease pain.

Reflexology or other Alternative Therapies  Alternative therapies are wonderful. I can say that with complete confidence from two personal stand points  one as a professional therapists and one from a sufferer of severe joint pain. There are many wonderful alternative therapies to choose from  many though can only be performed by a therapist e.g. reiki, acupuncture, the Bowen Technique etc but reflexology can easily be administered by the sufferer through working on corresponding reflex points located on the ears, hands & feet. This type of therapy allows for instant treatment any time, anywhere. It is the one that I use the most often and it is the treatment that I advise my clients to use between visits to empower them over their condition.

Combining Treatments

All the physical therapies that I have mentioned above can be used to greater advantage when they are combined with exercises to heal your tennis elbow. This is particularly useful for restoring flexibility and strength to the elbow after undergoing surgery. The exercises best suited to a tennis elbow injury include a 3 phase plan for rehabilitation

Stage 1   Decrease inflammation and pain   Promote tissue healing   Slow down the rate of muscular atrophy

The above objectives are reached by using the RICE method  rest, ice, compression & elevation. It is also useful to use a fresh root ginger compress or to massage the area with jojoba, St Johns Wort, Sweet Almond or Tamanu oil and a pain relieving essential oil such as lavender, tea tree etc.

Resting from activities that cause aggravation to the injury but make sure that you maintain a high level of activity to avoid additional stiffness and muscle atrophy.

Stage 2   Improve flexibility   Increase strength & endurance   Increase functional activities

The objectives to this phase are achieved through gentle stretching exercises that include wrist flexion, extension and rotation. All of these exercises need to be carried out with the elbow extended, held for around 20  30 seconds, repeated for 5 times and performed at least twice a day. Once increased flexibility in the joint is achieved and the pain has gone then you can then go to the second part of phase 2.

Strengthening exercises  Making sure that the elbow is bent and the wrist is supported you can then begin to build up the muscle strength by performing wrist extension, flexion, wrists twists, finger extension (using a rubber band) for resistance and ball squeezes. Start with 5 to 10 repetitions of each exercise and gradually build them up. If you feel pain at anytime then STOP and go back to the stretching exercises.

Finally when you have received full function in your arm then use the following guide to start playing tennis again. Remember if you have poor technique then talk to a professional coach about how you can improve.

Plan to getting back to playing tennis  15 mins forearm only  30 mins forearm only  30 mins forearm and 2 handed backhand  45 mins forearm and backhand  45 mins all strokes  full play  competitive play


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