Elbow pain (Tennis elbow or Golfers Elbow) can be extremely frustrating, debilitating, and never goes away. However, elbow pain can be very simple to heal once we understand what is actually going on. Most simply, elbow pain is technically a repetitive strain injury.
That’s right. The achy soreness that you feel after playing sports (e.g. tennis, golf, throwing, etc.) or after an activity (e.g. computer work, cooking, cleaning, etc.) is actually a tear in either the muscle or the tendon of the elbow and forearm. Sometimes there is a lot of tearing and sometimes there is just a little tearing (microtears) that adds up over time.
This tearing leads to inflammation (tendonitis), weakness, soreness, swelling, bleeding and eventually scarring (adhesion / fibrosis). The typical treatments for tennis elbow address only the inflammation and weakness.
The key to fixing elbow pain, though, is to reduce or eliminate all of the above symptoms plus the adhesions and fibrosis that comes from the tearing process. The adhesions and fibrosis are what keeps the elbow from healing properly and is usually involved in the high re-occurrence rate of tennis elbow.
The formation of adhesions and fibrosis (or scar tissue) is the body’s response to healing a tear. What actually occurs is that the spread of sticky fibrin, which is the sticky substance you feel when you bleed, seeps throughout the layers of the muscle and leads to scar tissue formation. The scar tissue and adhesions that forms are made up of collagen. This creates a strong bond and binds the injured tissue back together.
The scar tissue that binds injured tissue back together also binds the healthy tissue together. This causes decreased circulation and tightening of the muscle resulting in inflammation and lack of oxygen to tissues, creating biochemical changes, increasing fibroblasts and resulting in fibrosis and adhesions. More and more fibrosis and adhesions develop within the muscles causing the muscle to become less elastic (like a rubber band) and more leathery (like a belt). The more leathery the muscle becomes the more stress is placed at the tendon (where muscles inserts into bone). Too much load or force can create tearing of the tendon!
There are different grades of tears that occur in the muscle and tendon. The most common is a Type I muscle strain or ‘Repetitive Strain’. This basically consists of micro-tears. The other grades of tearing are Type II and Type III, which can result in complete rupture of the muscles and ultimately require surgery.
There are many things involved in determining the grade or type of tear that has occurred. In general, the degree of tearing can be based on the extent of bleeding that will create swelling and bruising on the surface. It is important to note that the degree of tearing is NOT based on the level of pain!!!
Common daily tasks/activities, such as cleaning, picking up milk, combing hair, and more can easily aggravate and create further injury. In other words, a Type I tear can become a Type II and so on.
There are many forms of treatments for tennis elbow. They can include:
ART and Graston Technique address the scar tissue (adhesions and fibrosis) and works to make the leathery muscle fibers more elastic again. It is the most effective way to breakdown scar tissue.
The doctor locates the scar tissue and traps the scar tissue with hand/thumb or Graston tool while the patient actively lengthens the involved muscle. The trapped scar tissue is held back as the muscle moves through. ART and Graston technique is so effective because it makes the muscle elastic again and gets to the root of the problem by increasing circulation to the injured muscle and tendon.
We have a greater than 90% success rate for all forms of tennis elbow and less than 10% re-occurrence rate. Most people get better and we never need to see them again!
While ART and Graston Technique is not a cure-all, removal of scar tissue is a key to a majority of cases. It addresses all hindrances to healing such as faulty mechanics of swing, racquet choice, poor ergonomics at work, hobbies (gardening, knitting, woodworking, etc.), and allows proper rest and recovery. Most importantly, ART and Graston technique addresses the scar tissue.
SPINAL AND SPORTS CARE FOR THE ACTIVE INDIVIDUAL: (916) 933-9870