Get Rid of the Tennis Elbow with TENS Therapy Units (Health News)

tennis-elbowLateral epicondylitis, is also called Tennis elbow is a very common injury that consequences from overuse, injury, or strain of the tendon that attaches the forearm muscles to the boney part of the outside of the elbow.

Called "tennis elbow" because tennis players are likely to getting it (50% of tennis players may have this condition), this medical condition is not limited to tennis players. Tennis elbow can be caused by any repetitious movements that involves bending the wrist in a turning or backwards motion (tennis, painting, hammering, using a screwdriver). Pain often comes on bit by bit but may be sudden, such as after lifting a very heavy object. In some cases, no specific cause can be found.

 But many other types of repetitive activities can also lead to tennis elbow–painting with a brush or roller, running a chain saw, and using many types of hand tools. Any activities that repeatedly stress the same forearm muscles can cause symptoms of tennis elbow. Check our Tens Unit stock for more information.


Although tennis elbow is common in middle or old age as the tendons become more susceptible to injury, younger people who exercise vigorously as well as people who perform repetitive tasks are also susceptible. The problem is within the cells of the tendon. This condition is what Doctors call tendinosis. Tendinosis, is an accumulation over time of microscopic injuries that don't heal properly.  When a tendon is injured or degenerated, the ligament no longer has dynamic support of the joint. Likewise, a weakened leads to an unstable joint, which means the tendon has no static support and would be stressed.

The body produces a type of cells called fibroblasts. When this occurs, the collagen loses its strength. It becomes fragile and can break or be easily injured. Each time the collagen breaks down, the body begins by forming scar tissue in the tendon. Eventually, the tendon becomes thickened from extra scar tissue.

The forearm tendon begins to have small tears from too much activity. The tears try to heal, but persistent strains and overuse keep re-injuring the tendon. After a while, the tendons stop trying to heal. The scar tissue never has an opportunity to heal fully, leaving the injured areas debilitate and painful.
 The main symptom of tennis elbow is tenderness and pain that starts at the lateral epicondyle of the elbow. The pain may expanse down the forearm. It may go as far as the back of the middle and ring fingers. The forearm muscles may feel sore and stingy. Stiffness and restricted movement in the affected area may also occur. Just reaching for a carton of milk inside the refrigerator can cause pain. Sometimes the elbow feels unflexible and won’t straighten out completely.

To diagnose tennis elbow, a series of exams and tests can be performed. A physical exam is often most helpful in diagnosing tennis elbow. Your doctor may position your wrist and arm so you feel a stretch on the forearm muscles and tendons. Patients with tennis elbow this movement is generally painful. When the diagnosis is not clear, your doctor may order other special tests. You may need to get X-rays of your elbow. The X-rays mostly help your doctor rule out other problems with the elbow joint. The X-ray may show if there are calcium deposits on the lateral epicondyle at the connection of the extensor tendon.

An MRI scan is a special imaging test that uses magnetic waves to create pictures of the elbow in slices. The MRI scan shows tendons as well as bones. The essential of nonsurgical treatment is to keep the collagen from breaking down further. The goal is to help the tendon heal. If the problem is caused by acute inflammation, anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen reduce pain and swelling. Which could provide you some relief. If the inflammation doesn’t go away, your doctor may inject the elbow with cortisone. Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication.

Doctors in most cases have patients with tennis elbow work with a physical or occupational therapist. Specific exercises are helpful for strengthening the muscles of the forearm. Your therapist may also perform ultrasound, ice massage, or muscle-stimulating techniques to improve muscle healing.

Using a brace centered over the back of your forearm may also help relieve symptoms of tennis elbow. This can reduce symptoms by resting the muscles and tendons or may apply tape to take some of the load off the elbow muscles and tendons. Some therapists may apply ice and electrical stimulation to ease pain and improve healing of the tendon. Shock wave therapy sends sound waves to the elbow. These sound waves create "microtrauma" that promote the body's natural healing processes. Shock wave therapy is considered experimental by many doctors, but some sources show it can be effective.

Electrodes applied to the skin deliver low voltage intermittent stimulation to surface nerves in the skin. The transmission of pain signals is blocked and endorphins are released. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers.

Electrical stimulation is also known as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). TENS Units refers to many types of electrical units that are used to relieve pain. Electrodes are placed on the skin near the injured area and attached to a stimulator by flexible wires. Electrical impulses are then produced to give relief from pain. The battery-operated unit is portable and can be used at home by the patient.

TENS is non-invasive and non-addictive. It has no side effects and can be used to treat acute or chronic pain. Persons who use pacemakers must not use any form of TENS. The electrical impulses may interfere with the pacemaker’s action.

Exercises are used to gradually stretch and strengthen the forearm muscles. Because tendinosis is often linked to overuse, your therapist will work with you to reduce repeated strains on your elbow.

When symptoms come from a particular sport or work activity, your Physical Therapist will observe your style and motion with the activity. We may provide tips about how to perform the movement so your elbow is protected. The physical therapist will also check your sports equipment and work tools and suggest how to alter them to keep your elbow safe.

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