Chiropractic vs. Traditional Approaches to Tennis Elbow

4 min read

Tennis elbow is caused by repetitive arm motion that can irritate and inflame the tendons in the arms, specifically around the elbow. It’s a surprisingly common injury that affects a wide variety of athletes – not just tennis players. It can also affect people whose jobs require repetitive arm motion. If left untreated, tennis elbow can become a chronic pain issue.

Understanding tennis elbow is one of the first steps to getting the appropriate treatment. Because tennis elbow is a fairly common injury, many people attempt to self-diagnose pain in the arms or elbow as tennis elbow and begin their own treatment plans. A misdiagnosis wastes time you could have spent on treatments meant for your specific condition. Self-diagnosis can also cause more damage to the tendons, requiring a longer recovery time or higher levels of intervention. 

Of course, if you look online, you will find many options for treating tennis elbow. Knowing what’s right for you is the key to feeling better as soon as possible. Let’s break down some traditional and some chiropractic treatments for tennis elbow. Then, talk to a chiropractor or a physician about your diagnosis and the right treatments for you.

Traditional Tennis Elbow Treatments

Heat and Ice - It’s common to start at the lowest level of at-home treatment, using heating pads alternated with ice. If the tennis elbow condition is minor, this may be all that’s needed, along with resting until the elbow feels better. Heat improves circulation to the area and helps to bring healing blood cells to the site to help recover from an injury more quickly. Ice reduces swelling, which makes it easier for the tendon to heal.

Pain and Anti-Inflammatory Medications - Reducing pain from tennis elbow by using anti-inflammatory medications can have the opposite effect on improving the condition. Sometimes inflammation is good and can help to immobilize an injury site and promote blood flow to the area. Additionally, when pain medications are used consistently, you can’t tell if it’s improving or getting worse. If you attempt to continue activity while you’re using pain medication, it is possible to cause more damage without knowing.

Physical Therapy - Physical therapy is used for various sports injuries. A physical therapist may perform manual therapy for tennis elbow to reduce soft tissue tightness and improve the elbow joint’s mobility. They may also recommend specific exercises to do at home to help improve your condition. 

Surgery - Surgery may be necessary in advanced or extreme tennis elbow cases. However, many individuals prematurely opt to jump straight to surgery when other methods of intervention may have been their best option for healing. Surgery results in a more extended recovery period and frequently causes more initial damage to the area that can prohibit rapid healing and may cause additional issues as the individual ages. 

Chiropractic Tennis Elbow Treatment

At Village Chiropractic, we specialize in helping individuals get back to their routines as quickly as possible. There are many situations when our services can help get people back on the court (or field) as soon as possible without costly or invasive surgery. Proper diagnosis also helps ensure we don’t waste time with unnecessary interventions that won’t work. Here are some of the potential treatments that we offer for patients who may have tennis elbow. 

Cold laser therapy - Cold laser therapy reduces inflammation in a specific area, such as the elbow. You can’t feel anything, but the light of the cold laser helps bring blood flow to the area so it can heal faster. Each cold laser therapy session lasts only about 10-15 minutes. It may be used in combination with other chiropractic treatments.

Electrical muscle stimulation - This approach, also called e-stim, utilizes a light electrical impulse in the elbow area. The gentle electrical pulse helps the body heal the injury by reducing the pain in the area, reducing inflammation, and decreasing muscle spasms. The electrical impulses are designed to relax the muscles, allowing the body to heal the injury naturally. 

Myofascial acoustic compression therapy - Similar to the cold laser, myofascial acoustic compression therapy utilizes acoustic waves to reduce pain and decrease inflammation. It targets tissue at various depths to different depths, essentially giving it a deep tissue massage. This helps keep the tissues loose, increase blood flow, and promote healing. 

Massage - Massage is one of the most underutilized but effective approaches to helping heal injuries. When a massage therapist conducts massage for an injury, they use targeted external movements to help manipulate and stimulate the tissues around the injured area. A talented therapist knows how much pressure to apply to help promote blood flow and keep the area mobile while the injury is recovering. We frequently utilize massage as a part of our overall treatment plan to help you feel better. 

Recovering From Tennis Elbow

For many athletes, the initial diagnosis of tennis elbow is treated depending on the type of help they seek. Doctors' offices will frequently prescribe medications, physical therapy, or surgery. 

If your elbow is hurting, talk to a chiropractor as soon as possible to see what can be done to improve the condition without using medications so you can get back to the activities you love.  At Village Chiropractic in The Woodlands, our friendly and professional staff will work with you to diagnose and create a treatment plan for your elbow pain. Request an appointment today at our office in Alden Bridge to see how we can help. 

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