While it is common to associate tennis elbow with the sport that gave the condition its name, the injury is far more widespread. A tendon problem, which is brought on by either repetitive stress or a sudden strain, tennis elbow frequently occurs among people who constantly work with their hands and wrists. This includes office workers and those who repeatedly lift and grip objects, such as construction workers and other manual labourers.
Healing from tennis elbow can be a long and tough process, especially since it is often very hard for a patient to properly rest and recover from the injury. Massage therapy may relieve pain and also shorten recovery time.
Read on to learn how RMTs identify and treat tennis elbow injuries.
Tennis elbow is caused by inflammation or tears in the elbow tendons, most commonly in the extensor carpis radialis muscles (longis and brevis) in the forearm, which enable wrist movement. It usually occurs in the brevis tendon, at an area of the elbow joint known as the tenoperiosteal junction where the tendon connects to the lateral epicondyle. The clinical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis.
When assessing a patient who is suffering from this condition, students in massage therapy school can usually identify the issue by applying pressure to the elbow muscles. If the injury is present, this test should cause mild pain in the area.
RMTs often see positive results in patients suffering from tennis elbow by using a combination of deep tissue massage to the forearms to enhance circulation, and friction therapy applied to the tendon in order to help reduce scar tissue adhesions in the area.
Friction massage is usually performed starting at the outside of the tenoperiosteal junction and moving towards the center of the elbow, and may also be applied to the tendon body itself. RMTs will often provide rehabilitative exercises to compliment the treatment as well, in order to lengthen and strengthen the muscle and promote soft, flexible tissue, limiting the formation of further scar tissue.
When treating a patient with tennis elbow, it is doubly important that therapeutic massage college students advise caution and patience. Full recovery from the injury may take between six months or more with rest alone. While massage can help speed up the process, patients need to avoid activities that put strain on the area.
Re-injury is also a frequent problem. Tears in the tendon are usually v-shaped, making the top of the tear wider and causing it to heal unevenly. As a result, patients begin to feel improvements before the tendon has fully healed, which can lead to a false sense of confidence in the strength of the tissue. Applying too much pressure on the healing area too soon often causes further damage. Students of massage therapy programs educate their patients on alterations to daily living activities to minimize the risk of re-injury.
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