The Loss of Grip Strength
Tennis Elbow is a repetitive use injury causing severe inflammation and pain around the outside of the elbow. Classically caused by a backhand shot in tennis, it more commonly develops from other overuse movements, such as using a computer keyboard and mouse or repetitive grasping motions. Patients with tennis elbow often complain of an ache on the outside of their forearm and elbow with occasional sharp pain with activities that put pressure on these muscles like grasping or twisting.
Simple rest or even substantial periods of time away from the cause does not necessarily cure the problem. It can return suddenly and seemingly without a specific event or reason. Technically tennis elbow is known as lateral epicondylitis. The muscles responsible for the pain begin at the back of the forearm attached to the outside of the elbow and extend to the wrist and fingers on the other end. Small tears can develop along these muscles, which cause inflammation and pain. The body’s natural response is to try to heal the area with scar tissue. This new scar tissue is stiff and weak and more likely to incur further injury, a precursor to chronic pain. Complicating the issue is a small nerve branch that wraps around the point of pain, which is what can cause the chronic achiness associated with lateral epicondylitis while resting.
Passive Recovery vs. Treatment
If unchecked, tennis elbow pain can extend up the forearm and the back of the hand, weakening the wrist and causing general loss of strength on that side. Since most treatment of tennis elbow is by way of passive methods, the underlying scar tissue is not addressed or repaired. Most often treatment involves NSAIDS, ointments, massage and cortisone injections. These approaches may offer some limited relief from pain, but if the injury is significant, another alternative approach such as chiropractic should be considered. Specifically, a method known as Active Release Technique (ART) is a hands on approach that is proven to improve use and reduce pain.
Active Release Therapy
Active Release Technique is an active therapy, important in that the patient and/or practitioner is actively moving the injured area throughout treatment (the forearm muscles in this case). The goal of the Active Release approach is to quickly and effectively break up scar tissue surrounding the elbow. This in turn helps in improving strength by reducing inflammation, thus increasing flexibility. Tennis Elbow typically responds swiftly and effectively to this therapy.
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