Pruning Trees and Shrubs All Weekend? How’s Your Elbow?

This weekend you bypassed the golf course, bike trail, and blobbing on football to instead get your yard ready for late fall and winter. You cut back trees and bushes and basically went crazy with those hand clippers.

So, how does your arm feel today? We’re not talking about the muscles in your hand that could be fatigued. We’re talking about the outside of your arm at the area around the bony bump on the outer side of your elbow.

Shaking hands is an exercise in short-term torture. Lifting normal things like a coffee cup at a certain angle is equally fun. Simple movements such as shaving are quite painful.

Sounds like you have a bout of lateral epicondylitis. You know it by another term — tennis elbow. We have different ways to help you deal with the pain of tennis elbow and to keep it from becoming chronic.

What is tennis elbow?

Lateral epicondylitis is an inflammation of the tendons that connect the muscles of the forearm to the elbow. This inflammation is simply caused by overuse of the muscles and tendons, usually from repetitive motion, such as squeezing clippers about two hundred times over the weekend. Thank you, yard work!

Why does this happen?

The common name, tennis elbow, is a bit of a misnomer. Tennis players can get tennis elbow, although it isn’t as common with today’s more shock absorbing, light tennis racquets. The pain of this condition occurs where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow. Overuse of these tendons has actually created tiny tears in the tendon, resulting in pain. You can get it from tennis, usually with improper technique on the backhand, but you can also get it from painting, repairing a sink, driving screws, cutting up meat and vegetables. It’s the repetition that creates the overuse.

Treating tennis elbow

At Summit Healthcare Pain Clinic, Dr. Trujillo often deals with tennis elbow in our patients. Initially, we’ll try a combination of rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications. If you’re able to stop the movements that led to the inflammation, tennis elbow will often get better with just this level of treatment.

If it doesn’t improve, however, Dr. Trujillo may use these treatments:

  • Physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections directly into the painful areas
  • PRP injections
  • Forearm or wrist splint

He’ll also give you a series of exercises, mostly stretches, which will help improve blood flow and engage the tendons to help them heal the tiny tears.

Other than the steroid injections, these are not instant improving treatments. It could take up to two months for your tennis elbow to fully resolve.

If shaking hands or lifting a skillet has turned into an ordeal, you probably have tennis elbow. Call us at Summit Healthcare Pain Clinic Associates, (928) 532-1605, and we’ll help with the pain.

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