JACO Rehab’s physical therapists treat all elbows, including the common tennis and golfer’s elbow pain. If surfer’s elbow was a thing, we would treat that, too. Looking for physical therapy for the elbow and hand? You’re in the right place.
Elbow pain can be a pesky problem, especially if it’s the result of an overuse injury. It can have constant, intermittent, sharp, or dull qualities. It can also be a convenient cover for a different problem – a nerve injury – which may be originating from somewhere else.
If you’re having elbow pain, don’t wait any longer. Reach out to have it evaluated by a physical therapist and figure out where it’s coming from, how to relieve it, and how to prevent it from returning.
At JACO, we provide a rare opportunity for you to be treated 1-on-1 by a physical therapist for over 50 minutes every session. We give you power over your injury so that you can confidently discharge from our care. Interested in an appointment? Call us today!
Common Elbow Injuries that Physical Therapists Treat
We are elbow experts! Here’s a list of common elbow injuries that we treat, and a few that originate from the forearm into the wrist and hand:
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Tennis elbow is one of the most common elbow injuries we see in the clinic. It can be a very persistent, annoying pain on the outside of the elbow. Keep in mind that, sometimes, it can be easily confused with a nerve entrapment or a pinched nerve originating from the neck.
Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)
This presents very similarly to tennis elbow, but on the inside of the elbow. This can also present as a very persistent pain and can be confused with nerve injuries as well.
Elbow or Forearm Fracture
This is very common in athletic kids and young adults who fall on their arm during sport. Physical therapy often begins after the fracture heals to decrease stiffness and regain strength after casting.
Watch out – this gets complicated! Nerves snake their way through some tight spots in the forearm and hand. If you’re getting burning pain or even numbness and tingling into the hand, you may have a nerve entrapment.
Like an elbow or forearm fracture, elbow dislocations are often from a traumatic fall or forceful tug on the arm (nursemaid’s elbow). Physical therapy helps to strengthen the joint to prevent re-injury. If surgery was required to fix the elbow, we help to regain mobility and strength.
UCL Injury/Tommy John Surgery for UCL Reconstruction
UCL stands for ulnar collateral ligament, and it helps stabilize the inside of your elbow. The UCL is often stressed with repetitive overhead throwing (think baseball pitchers). It can also be disrupted with an elbow dislocation or fracture. Physical therapy helps regain mobility and strength of the elbow to protect and reinforce the joint.
Common Hand Injuries that Physical Therapists Treat
De Quervain’s Syndrome
This injury involves painful thumb movement because of tendon irritation. It can be very painful and persistent. De Quervain’s is unusually common in new mothers within the first year of childbirth. It’s also common in those who perform repetitive movements of the hand such as typing and crafting.
What Causes Elbow Pain?
Most commonly, elbow pain is a result of overuse or trauma. Repetitive motions of the arm can place stress on the elbow joint, especially if other structures like the shoulder or core are weak.
Shoulder weakness predisposes joints down the arm to overuse injury due to compensatory motions. This is often the case for people who carry things often, including servers and mechanics. We see compensatory injuries resulting from core weakness as well, often in throwing athletes. Inefficient movement patterns that rely on the strength of an extremity alone will inevitably cause stress on joints like the elbow. Poor technique can have you injured quick, sometimes resulting in surgeries like the Tommy John surgery.
Traumatic injuries, like falling on your arm, can often dislocate or break the elbow causing pain (not surprising). Secondary pains can result from a traumatic injury, like achy pain from a stiff joint or shooting pain from a damaged nerve.
Does Physical Therapy Help Elbow Pain?
All. The. Time.
JACO Rehab sees elbow injuries very often. When you come for your first physical therapy visit, your physical therapist will work with you to figure out what caused your injury and how to rehabilitate it. Your therapist will take measurements and assess strength while ruling in/out potential sources of your pain. Once we determine if you’re appropriate for physical therapy, you’ll receive a few exercises and resources to help you start your recovery.
In future sessions, the physical therapist will check on symptoms and see what adjustments need to be made. The better you comply with your exercises, the better we can help you recover!
Exercises are always chosen to fit your individual presentation. Before trying anything new at home, make sure you call your physical therapist first. You can book a visit to JACO Rehab if you’re wondering what you should and shouldn’t do.
Throughout your care, you will learn all about your injury and factors that contribute to your recovery. You’ll also learn how to prevent your injury from coming back. If you ever have questions regarding your injury, don’t hesitate to ask your physical therapist.
Top 3 Frequently Asked Questions about Elbow Injuries
1. How long does it take for tennis elbow to heal?
As with any injury, recovery time is extremely dependent on your daily routine, environment, and behavior. However, there are factors that help you predict how long it may take:
- Time: The longer your tennis elbow has been around, the longer it will take to resolve. If the tendon has undergone enough stress over time, its cell structure will literally change. Physical therapists can help a tendon’s cell structure remodel by loading the tendon methodically over the treatment time, which may take multiple visits at least.
- Environmental factors: Maybe you’re a server who cannot take off work to rest the injury, and you’re expected to use your arm repetitively every day. You may be causing irritation to the elbow, and it will take longer to heal. These situations happen, but there are ways to accommodate the injury with bracing, although it is not always appropriate for everyone.
- Compliance: If you are compliant with your treatment plan, you can expect better outcomes.
These factors are generally true about most tendonitis injuries.
2. Do tennis elbow braces work?
Yes, they can if they are applied correctly.
A tennis elbow brace looks like a band around the forearm. It is meant to offload the irritated tendon and distribute force away from it. Placement of the brace is especially important, so make sure to follow directions.
It is also important to consider the tightness of the brace. If it’s too tight, it can cause nerve entrapment. If it’s too loose, it will not offload the tendon enough. When applying the brace, you should be able to wiggle a finger between the brace and your skin. If you can’t fit the finger under the brace, it’s too tight.
If you have a tennis elbow brace and you’re unsure how to wear it, ask your physical therapist.
3. Should I consider a cortisone shot for my elbow?
Corticosteroid shots are used to help decrease inflammation to the surrounding area. If your pain originated as compensation to weakness, imbalance or poor technique, your pain is likely to return.
At JACO Rehab, you’ll work with physical therapists to figure out causes of your symptoms, help manage your symptoms and possibly achieve long-term recovery.
If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!