Difficulty opening your front door. Elbow pain when lifting the TV remote. Pain in the outside of the elbow when shaking hands. People who are experiencing these symptoms likely have a condition called lateral epicondylitis.
Most people don’t know the condition by this name. It’s more likely that you’ve heard it called tennis elbow, and it’s a far more common condition than you might think. In fact, medical research shows that about 1 million Americans experience tennis elbow annually.
Physical therapy is an effective treatment option for tennis elbow and its symptoms. One of the most commonly used therapy methods during in-clinic sessions is therapeutic exercises. There are two exercises in particular that your physical therapist could demonstrate during your appointment.
- Finger extension exercise
One exercise your physical therapy specialist may have you do during a tennis elbow therapy session is the finger extension exercise. The forearm muscles play a key role in extending the fingers, and tennis elbow can make it harder to perform this action. Strengthening the forearm muscles can take some pressure off your injured elbow, which is the goal of this exercise.
How to perform the finger extension exercise
- With the affected hand, hold your fingers and thumb so that their tips are touching. Your physical therapist may place a rubber band around your fingers for added resistance.
- From this position, slowly fan your fingers and thumb outward as far as possible.
- Hold this position for two or three seconds.
- Slowly return your fingers to the starting position.
- Your physical therapist may ask you to repeat this exercise between 10 and 30 times.
- Wrist pronation exercise
Another exercise commonly used during physical therapy sessions for tennis elbow is the wrist pronation exercise. Pronation is a type of movement that your wrist makes naturally, and this movement occurs when you turn your palm down to the ground. Like extending your fingers, wrist pronation requires that you use the forearm muscles. Doing this exercise without weight can help stretch these muscles, which can reduce elbow pain. Performing it with weight can help strengthen the forearm muscles and better support the elbow.
How to perform the wrist pronation exercise
- Position your forearm on a chair arm or flat surface so that the hand is over the edge. Your palm should be facing toward you initially.
- Slowly rotate your wrist so that your palm is facing down toward the floor.
- Hold this position for three seconds.
- Slowly rotate your wrist until your palm is facing toward you again.
- A therapy specialist will likely have you do at least 10 reps of this exercise.
Even more physical therapy methods for tennis elbow treatment are available at Back in Motion
Want to find out more about physical therapy for tennis elbow? Our physical therapists at Back in Motion are ready and willing to help you get the help you need for this condition. We’ll start by doing a physical screening of your affected elbow to pinpoint the root cause of your symptoms. Then, our team will create a personalized physical therapy plan for you that can include therapeutic exercises and other techniques like:
Contact us today for more information about our physical therapy services for tennis elbow or to schedule an initial appointment.