Tennis elbow has long been medically designated as lateral epicondylitis. However, there has been recent debate over whether the suffix “itis” is accurate because there is evidence that it is not an inflammatory condition. Publications such as the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy have suggested the suffix “algia,” meaning pain, to more accurately reflect the underlying pathology.
As such, lateral epicondylalgia occurs when the tendons in the elbow that bend the wrist backward are weakened or damaged. This is caused by certain repetitive motions that put a strain on the wrist.
It is strongly associated with tennis because those athletes rely heavily on a specific arm movement to strike the ball with their racket. However, anyone performing repetitive movements at work or other activities can develop lateral epicondylalgia—like turning a wrench, for example.
Patients will often present with pain, burning, or aching along the outside of the forearm and elbow. The condition can worsen and spread down to the wrist, weakening their grip.
Treating Lateral Epicondylalgia
Conservative treatment options for lateral epicondylalgia include rest, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for pain, physical therapy, or a brace. More invasive methods include steroid injections, such as cortisone. Open or arthroscopic surgery may be recommended in extreme cases where symptoms haven’t improved after six to twelve months.
Shockwave therapy is a drug-free, non-invasive treatment option for lateral epicondylalgia. By delivering acoustic pressure waves to the affected area, shockwave therapy boosts natural healing processes by stimulating metabolism and circulation. It has also been proven to improve symptoms of lateral epicondylalgia quickly and without side effects.
One study compared the efficacy of shockwave therapy to local corticosteroid injection for lateral epicondylalgia. Researchers divided thirty tennis and squash players suffering from lateral epicondylalgia into two groups. One group received one weekly shockwave therapy session for three weeks. The other group received a local corticosteroid injection in the form of 40 mg methyl prednisolone with 1 ml mepacaine at the most tender point in the lateral epicondyle area.
Researchers noted significant improvements in both groups. However, they also noted shockwave therapy “revealed better improvement on long-term clinical and ultrasonographic follow-up than corticosteroid injection.”
In conclusion, not only does shockwave therapy have the advantages of being non-invasive and drug-free, but it is also a superior treatment option.
Patients want effective treatment fast, so they can back to their jobs and the activities they enjoy. Shockwave therapy delivers speedy results to many common conditions, such as tendinopathies, shoulder pain, plantar fasciitis, and more. Fortunately, all healthcare practitioners can take advantage of our industry-leading shockwave technology.
To learn more call 1 (888) 741-SHOC(7462) or visit our website.