After you learn what is tennis elbow and how to cure it, you’ll be referred for therapy for your tennis elbow. If you’re talking to friends, they may point you to a health professional they trust.“You have to see my chiropractor! He’s really good and picked the best brace for lateral epicondylitis”“My physical therapist really helped me with my shoulder. She’s someone you need to see”“Massage really helped with my injury. You should try that.”Other times, your doctor may just say ‘Its easy. If you just put on ice, tennis elbow pain will get better.’As you can see, you’ll most likely be pulled into many different directions. You’ll end up seeing a chiropractor, and then have everyone telling you that a physical therapist is who you REALLY want to see!You’ll get a recommendation for a strap for tennis elbow, when someone may say you really need a tennis elbow splint.So who is right?The truth is everyone is right and everyone is wrong. There isn’t a single profession that is ‘specialized’ in treating your tennis elbow. I’ve always found that certain therapists or health professionals are really good at treating certain conditions. For others, not so much.In addition, certain treatments like elbow tendonitis brace works for some, and for others, not so much.How can this be though? Didn’t they all go through the same training? They may have, but you only learn the basics while going through school. When you begin practicing, it’s a different story.Same with treatments.
For tendonitis, elbow brace is the first thing that’s usually recommended, yet it can be completely useless for some.Instead of deciding WHO to see, let’s go through the types of treatments that work, like tendonitis elbow treatment exercises. You can then work backwards and see if a health professional focuses on something like exercises for tennis elbow tendonitis, or knows of anyone that does.However, there are others out there telling you most treatments are a waste of time, like how to cure tennis elbow naturally.This camp believes that most of the people that have tendonitis, elbow cure treatments are useless.And where do they get their proof for treating tennis arm pain?They may be referring to the following study (Ref.). This study did a review of all the research studies that dealt with sharp elbow pain and tennis elbow treatment. For those that treat tendonitis, elbow pain was no better than just placebo or observation in the medium to long term. They looked at the effect of treatment like elbow tendonitis rehab or no treatment after 6 months or greater.This is one of several studies that some of my fellow colleagues who are surgeons point to. When they talk about tennis elbow, help is usually in the form of reassurance or corticosteroids as the best cures for tennis elbow. However, if you look closer, you’ll see that there’s some issues with the study (most of which the study itself points out!)The study looked at whether remedies for tennis elbow provided any tennis elbow cures after 6 months. However, they also point to the fact that getting therapy can actually help in the short term, if not as a long term cure for tennis elbow. If you’re someone that is looking for pain relief for tennis elbow, would you want to wait 6 months for it to get better, or would you like to get treatment so you can experience at least some short term relief? I’d choose the latter, and find out what is good for tennis elbow TODAY.
What exactly is tennis elbow? And when should you be looking at other things? Here are 2 more things you should be looking at:Is the pain local or spread out? If the shooting pain in elbow can be pinpointed within a 1 to 2 cm area, then its’ most likely tennis elbow. If the pain is diffuse, spread out over the elbow, going down to your forearm and / or fingers and upper arm, then we may want to look at other things, such as trigger points (muscles knots). A tennis elbow brace at this stage may be useless until you get the muscle knots or trigger points taken care of.Is there pain at night? If you have pain at night during rest, that’s usually not a sign that it’s tennis elbow. You’ll need to see a health professional to screen out other things. In terms of what kind of doctor treats tennis elbow, you will most likely see a physician, physical therapist, or chiropractor. All of them would be equally competent for your elbow injury treatment and diagnosis. Remember, tennis elbow has nothing to do with inflammation. Some of my patients complain of night pain and contribute it to being ‘inflamed’. Generally, tennis elbow doesn’t cause night pain. It usually ends up being something else, which I usually refer back to a specialist to run the appropriate tests, which may include ultrasound for tennis elbow.
Can an Ultrasound or MRI show me how bad my elbow tendon pain is?If you’re like nearly 99% of my patients, you may come to believe that since something is wrong, it shouldn’t be hard for us to ‘find it’.We all want to be referred for x-rays, ultrasounds or MRI’s because well, it’s going to provide all the answers, right? Will these fancy tests then tell you exactly what tennis elbow treatment at home you need? Nope.Not so fast.These tools are mostly used as part of a total approach.Getting an ultrasound by itself is not going to prove anything. It’s not going to tell you what tennis elbow exercises to avoid, or how to cure tennis elbow at home.For example, one study found changes on ultrasound that was very similar to what you would see for tennis elbow. (Ref.) The only problem is, these people were pain free. They have never had tennis elbow!The thing about these tests is that they are actually good at predicting if someone DOESNT have tennis elbow, rather than what helps tennis elbow.
Not only that, but there can also be differences based on the equipment used and the experience of the technician doing the work. (Ref.) That doesn’t lend much comfort in believing that these magical technology tools are going to provide us with the answer we’re looking for.Another study found that the amount of damage seen on MRI, ultrasound or any other test had nothing to do with the amount of pain and function you had. (Ref.)To top it off, another study looked at people that actually felt less pain after 6 months. So they decided to take an ultrasound again. If your pain is getting better, you’d expect to probably see improvements in the changes on the ultrasound. Not so says this study. The findings didn’t change. But your pain got a lot better! (Ref.)So next time your doctor tells you that you have some ‘degeneration on ultrasound’ or ‘inflammation contributing to elbow ligament pain’, take it with a grain of salt.