In this installment of “Ask the TRX Doctor,” Dr. Perkash fields a question from member Yanira M. on the cause of tennis elbow and if/when to start using the TRX again after this type of injury.
I’ve being suffering of chronic tennis elbow for the last three months, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. I have a 0.5 cm tear in my extensor. Right now, I can’t do any upper body exercise. I’m trying to figure out what caused this injury in the first place.
“Tennis elbow” is a common musculoskeletal ailment that is known medically as “extensor tendinitis.” It usually represents cumulative trauma to the common wrist/forearm extensor tendon that originates along the lateral epicondyle (outside bone) of the elbow and inserts in various locations through muscles travelling across the wrist. It was named after a common ailment due to elbow pain as a result of incorrectly hitting a tennis backhand while bending the wrist. This resulted in chronic microtrauma to the extensor tendon and resulting lateral epicondylitis.
In general, more people are afflicted with tennis elbow through activities outside of tennis than through tennis itself. With the advent of the computer keyboard and mouse, many people suffer from lateral epicondylitis and other repetitive strain injuries (a.k.a. cumulative trauma injuries) as a result of excessive time in front of the computer. Repetitive use of the wrists and forearms through any activity or a combination of activities can result in lateral epidcondylitis. This can include assembly work using the hands, twisting instruments such as a screwdriver, using vibrating equipment such as a jackhammer or repetitive gripping activities of any kind.
Sometimes, the injury can be more significant and include more than simple tendinitis such as an extensor tear. Certainly the spectrum of injury in either situation requires physician consultation and guided treatment in an appropriate fashion. If someone does not have the strength and endurance to do a specific activity (e.g., using a keyboard or mouse for eight hours a day with relatively deconditioned forearm musculature) or if proper technique is not employed in given task (e.g., hitting a tennis backhand with a loose wrist or an excessively stiff racket), then injury is more likely to occur. All of these injuries should be treated appropriately under a physician’s guidance, and only after someone has been cleared by his physician should normal activities and sports activities be resumed. This includes using the TRX, as many of the exercises using the TRX require gripping using the forearm musculature. Sometimes, treatment of lateral epidondylitis can be prolonged, occasionally taking as long as one year or more to fully heal.
Common treatments for lateral epicondylitis include physical therapy modalities (heat, ice, ultrasound, etc), bracing, stretching and strengthening exercises, cortisone injections, acupuncture and, rarely, surgery.
Have a question for the TRX Doctor? Email email@example.com. For more on how TRX Suspension Training bodyweight exercise is a safe, scalable and effective solution for you or your patients, visit our Sports Medicine page and download our White Paper.
NOTE: Any medical information in this blog is of a general nature and not a substitute for the advice of a medical professional. If you need medical advice, see a doctor.