Is Tennis Elbow or Golfer's Elbow a Type of Bursitis?
Anytime there is elbow pain, there are reasons to explore the underlying cause. It cannot be assumed that all elbow pain is tennis elbow, the most common term that seems to be applied to all types of pain in this area of the arm. In fact, bursitis is a different condition than tennis elbow or golfer's elbow. It involves inflammation of the bursae, and small, fluid-filled sacs around the elbow joint. If you have elbow pain that doesn't get better with rest and ice, it's important to obtain a thorough clinical examination of the bursae, the tendons, and other structures that may be susceptible to injury.
Can Elbow Pain go Away On its Own?
Elbow pain that is related to tennis elbow or golfer's elbow may resolve without clinical treatment. That said, it's better to seek out medical intervention sooner rather than later. If pain worsens or does not improve with rest and home care, the inflammation that has developed may require therapeutic intervention for full resolution. Because tendon issues do often get better on their own, the presence of ongoing symptoms may indicate an entirely different injury or problems such as cartilage or joint damage. With a focused examination and proper care for elbow pain, the risk of developing chronic inflammatory conditions in the area can be diminished.
Is Surgery Needed for Conditions like Tennis Elbow?
Fortunately, conditions like tennis elbow rarely require surgery. Statistics indicate that only 10 to 20 percent of cases involve therapeutic care at all, let alone surgery. A doctor typically considers surgery only when the injury does not respond to more conservative forms of care or when pain persists for more than six months. Another reason to consider surgery is that the pain is interfering with work or the performance of normal activities to such a degree that it is impacting life as a whole.
Why Do I Need Physical Therapy after Elbow Surgery?
Some clients come to see us after they've had elbow surgery. In these instances, the goals are focused on restoring optimal range of motion and improving comfort through specific modalities. The results of surgery are not always quick, nor are they always satisfactory, at least not without proper rehabilitation.
Occupational and physical therapy exercises are the foundation of our work with elbow pain clients. While pain can improve quickly with medication, long-term improvements occur through a series of therapy sessions. In these appointments, the occupational or physical therapist will demonstrate and supervise the performance of stretching exercises and, as needed, strengthening exercises. To reach the best possible outcome from surgery and rehabilitation, it is also necessary to perform the prescribed exercises in between sessions.
In addition to precise exercises, therapy for elbow pain may also involve the use of ultrasound, electrical stimulation of the muscles and tendons, and other modalities. At the onset of your rehabilitation program, your therapist can discuss the modalities that may be ideal for your case.