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Why PT is a Winning Strategy for Treating Tennis Elbow

Physical therapy massage gun in New York City

Recently Dr. Marko was interviewed by the New York Times on the causes and treatments for "Tennis Elbow", AKA lateral epicondylitis. You can read more in that article here and read below for more detailed information on this condition.


Understanding Tennis Elbow and its Causes

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow, medically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that usually occurs on the outside of the elbow. The area affected is where the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the lateral epicondyle, or the bony bump on the outer part of the elbow joint. Despite its name, it is not just a condition that affects tennis players, but anyone who performs repetitive motions involving the forearm and wrist, such as painters, plumbers, and carpenters.

Causes of Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is caused by repetitive stress to the muscles and tendons that extend the wrist and fingers. This repetitive stress causes small tears in the tendons and leads to inflammation and pain. Some activities that can lead to tennis elbow include overuse of a computer mouse, typing, gripping, or twisting objects. Age and poor technique can also contribute to the development of lateral epicondylitis.

The Role of Physical Therapy in Treating Tennis Elbow

Why Physical Therapy is Important for Tennis Elbow

Physical therapy is a crucial treatment option for individuals with tennis elbow. It can help reduce pain, improve mobility, and prevent the condition from worsening. Physical therapists can design a customized rehabilitation plan that addresses the patient's individual needs while focusing on their specific goals and concerns.

Benefits of Physical Therapy for Tennis Elbow

Physical therapy provides a multitude of benefits for individuals with tennis elbow. It can help reduce pain, decrease inflammation, improve range of motion, increase strength, prevent further injury, and promote overall healing.

Effective Physical Therapy Techniques for Tennis Elbow

Manual Therapy Techniques

Manual therapy techniques are often used to reduce pain, inflammation and increase mobility. Techniques such as soft tissue mobilization and joint mobilization can help loosen tight muscles and improve joint mobility.

Strengthening Exercises for Tennis Elbow

Strengthening exercises for tennis elbow focus on improving the strength of the wrist extensor muscles, which are often the source of pain in this condition. Examples of exercises include wrist curls with a lightweight, resistance band exercises, and grip-strengthening exercises.

It is crucial to start these exercises with low weight and gradually increase as tolerated to avoid exacerbating the injury. Your physical therapist can recommend the appropriate weight and frequency for your specific case.

Stretching Exercises for Tennis Elbow

Stretching exercises for tennis elbow aim to improve the flexibility of the forearm muscles and tendons, which can reduce pain and prevent future injury. Examples of stretches include wrist extensor stretches, forearm pronation and supination, and wrist flexor stretches.

It is important to stretch gently and avoid overstretching, which can worsen the injury. Your physical therapist can guide you through the appropriate stretches for your condition and monitor your progress.

Other Treatments and Modalities for Tennis Elbow

In addition to strengthening and stretching exercises, there are other treatment options for tennis elbow. Your physical therapist may recommend one or more of the following modalities:

Bracing and Taping for Tennis Elbow

A brace or tape can immobilize the affected area and reduce stress on the forearm muscles and tendons. This can help alleviate pain and promote healing.

Ice and Heat Therapy for Tennis Elbow

Ice and heat therapy can be used to reduce pain and inflammation in the affected area. Ice can be applied for 15-20 minutes several times a day, while heat can be applied for 20-30 minutes before exercise or physical therapy.

Medications for Tennis Elbow

Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, can be used to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

Prevention Strategies to Avoid Future Tennis Elbow Injuries

To prevent future occurrences of tennis elbow, there are several strategies you can incorporate into your routine:

Proper Technique for Sports and Activities

Whether you're playing tennis or performing other activities that may stress the forearm muscles and tendons, it is important to use the proper technique. Your physical therapist can help you identify ways to modify your technique to reduce stress on the affected area.

Warming Up and Cooling Down

Before engaging in physical activity, it is important to warm up to increase blood flow and prevent injury. Similarly, cooling down after physical activity can help reduce soreness and promote recovery.

Strength and Flexibility Training

Incorporating strength and flexibility training into your routine can help prevent future injuries by improving overall muscle and tendon health. Your physical therapist can recommend exercises specific to your individual needs and fitness level.

In conclusion, physical therapy can be a highly effective treatment for tennis elbow. From initial assessment and diagnosis to exercise therapy techniques, physical therapy can help alleviate pain, improve function, and prevent future injury. If you're experiencing tennis elbow, consider seeking out a qualified physical therapist to help you on the path to recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can tennis elbow be treated without physical therapy?

Yes, tennis elbow can be treated without physical therapy. However, physical therapy can be a highly effective treatment option, especially for those with severe or chronic tennis elbow.

How long does it take for physical therapy to treat tennis elbow?

The length of time it takes for physical therapy to treat tennis elbow will vary depending on the severity of the injury and other factors. Typically, it can take several weeks to several months to see improvement.

What kind of physical therapist should I see for tennis elbow?

It's important to see a physical therapist who specializes in treating musculoskeletal injuries and has experience working with patients with tennis elbow. Look for a licensed physical therapist who is board certified in orthopedics.

Can physical therapy prevent future tennis elbow injuries?

Yes, physical therapy can help prevent future tennis elbow injuries by improving strength, flexibility, and technique. Your physical therapist can work with you to develop a personalized exercise and prevention program to help keep you healthy and injury-free.


Physical Therapy helps you perform at your best

If you are seeking assistance in developing a personalized exercise program that caters to your specific needs, look no further than Marko Physical Therapy.

We are readily available to assist you in achieving your health goals. We understand that each individual has unique needs, and we are committed to providing personalized care to help you reach your full potential.

Whether you are recovering from an injury or looking to improve your overall fitness, we are dedicated to helping you succeed. Contact us today to schedule an evaluation and take the first step towards a healthier, happier you.

For more information on our services, please visit our website at We look forward to helping you on your journey toward optimal health and wellness.

Restore Your Body with Marko Physical Therapy.


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