Chiropractic Care & Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, otherwise known medically as lateral elbow tendinopathy, is a difficult disorder of the musculoskeletal system to treat because there is such a wide range of methods for dealing with it and different theories on what is the best procedure is for managing and rehabilitating a patient with this condition. 

Tennis elbow manifests as painful sensations that radiate from the back part of the elbow and down the forearm into the wrist. This painful sensation is also accompanied by a weakness that makes it difficult to perform certain actions with the hands like shaking hands in greeting, twisting a doorknob, or holding a drinking glass. Conventional medical advice usually dictates resting the arm by not using it, putting it on ice, and taking over-the-counter pain medications to relieve the discomfort. Chiropractic care differs in that not only does it seek to relieve the pain from tennis elbow, but also to rehabilitate the affected arm.

For example, doctors of chiropractic will all use their hands to deliver manipulative therapy to the spine and elbows of their patients suffering from this disorder, but there are multiple options for complementary treatment and which one leads to the speediest recovery is unclear. A recent study looked at three of the most common supplementary treatments used by chiropractors treating tennis elbow: therapeutic ultrasound (U/S), interferential current (IFC), or a combination of both. The aim of the research was to discover if any one method was more effective in managing tennis elbow than any other.

The study observed three groups of people composed of ten people each, evenly divided by gender, who were experiencing pain from tennis elbow. Each group received chiropractic manipulation therapy but varied in what supportive treatment they were given in addition.The first group’s therapy was supplemented with therapeutic ultrasound, the second interferential current, and the third received a combination of both. 

Therapeutic ultrasound involves coating the affected areas, in this case it would be the elbow, forearm and wrist with a gel that aids the transmission of high frequency sound vibrations into the body where they are absorbed by connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments. Interferential current works in a similar way but uses medium frequency electricity instead of sound waves to loosen and massage the affected area.

Ultimately the study found that all three methods of supplementary care added to chiropractic therapy were successful. However, based on subjective reports from individual patients after the therapy was concluded, therapeutic ultrasound and the combination therapy were more effective than interferential current alone.

Story Link

Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Marianne Bevis