Many conditions that are associated with elbow pain include arthritis, stress factors, and trapped nerves. Tennis and Golfer’s elbow is considered the most common elbow disorder amongst the general population and a common result of recreational activities and many occupational duties. As one of the biggest joints in the human body, the elbow is responsible for a variety of range of movements, hence, why there seems to be a record of opportunities to experience an injury from repetitive strain. The pain associated with tennis and golfer's elbow can be self-limiting and particularly frustrating when it comes to day-to-day tasks.
Even if you don’t play tennis or golf, this disorder can easily happen to you over time. Whether you are an avid tennis player, devoted golfer, work as a plumber, or love to garden, you may have experienced tennis or golfer’s elbow. The pain primarily results from the overuse of the tendons and muscles surrounding the arm and wrist. The medical terminology you may have heard from your physician to diagnose you with this disorder is referred to as medial or lateral epicondylitis. Put simply, inflammation of the elbow.
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Here are some common indicators of Golfer’s Elbow:
Golfer’s elbow, also called medial epicondylitis, is the discomfort on the inner side of the arm and elbow. Because the golfer's elbow involves the forearm muscles that assist in wrist flexion and the muscles that assist in the twisting motion of the wrist, the pain will generally occur when making a fist or when twisting the forearm. Another symptom may be muscle weakness around the elbow joint.
Common indicators of Tennis Elbow:
Tennis elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis, is the discomfort of the outside of the arm and elbow and affects the extensor muscles of the wrist and fingers. Tennis elbow is the prevalent one of the two disorders and is specific to the overuse of the tendons in the forearm. Some symptoms may include weakness when gripping and pain outside of the elbow joint.
Some common questions regarding the pain resulting from the two disorders include:
Will my elbow pain ever go away?
What are my treatment options?
Some good news is that the pain can be temporary if we pay close attention to the pain early on and consult with a primary physician to get a proper diagnosis. The exciting news is that the rehabilitation perk of red light therapy has been studied and reviewed in clinical research and the therapeutic relief is here to stay. Research has shown that red light therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), may speed up the healing time associated with this disorder.
As seen in this 2011 peer-reviewed article titled, “Tennis elbow,” the researchers studied the effects of a variety of interventions to treat tennis elbow, including LLLT. The systemic review outlined the safety and efficacy of red light therapy and its positive results.
This 2013 randomized controlled trial titled, "The effectiveness of therapeutic class IV (10 W) laser treatment for epicondylitis," covered the results of the participants that received light therapy (who had chronic epicondylitis) and concluded a decrease in lateral pain of the elbow. This study also concluded that the light therapy had increased the handgrip strength of the participants as well as improved overall arm function. High fives all around!
Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) was examined in comparison to “Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT)” in treating lateral epicondylitis in this most recent peer review article. It was found that Photobiomodulation surpassed shockwave therapy with great satisfaction and found that photobiomodulation was more gratifying amongst the participants. The results from this clinical review stated the following:
“Improvements for elbow extension and shoulder flexion strength and for VAS movement were observed only in the PBMT group, whereas improvement of handgrip strength was present in both groups. However, handgrip strength was superior in the PBMT group than in the ESWT group.”
Get back into the swing of things with more clarity!
A 2008 systemic clinical review states that LLLT used in conjunction with physical therapy may benefit golfers and tennis elbow tremendously. Something to keep in mind when deciding on your rehab goals. Whatever you decide to do, using LLLT alone is just as beneficial as stated in this direct quote from this review:
“LLLT administered with optimal doses of 904 nm and possibly 632 nm wavelengths directly to the lateral elbow tendon insertions, seem to offer short-term pain relief and less disability in LET, both alone and in conjunction with an exercise regimen.”
The benefits of physical therapy will result in pain and tension relief by strengthening the muscles around the joint. This clinical review states “the short-term analgesic effect of manipulation techniques may allow more vigorous stretching and strengthening exercises resulting in a better and faster recovery process of the affected tendon in lateral epicondylitis.” I am sure you can see that when combining physical therapy with LLLT, we have a match made in heaven!
If you suffer from golfer's or tennis elbow, know that there are options out there for your relief. Red light therapy is becoming more accessible than ever before and can provide multiple benefits. The clinical reviews discussed above provide a promising future for the unforeseen elbow disorders associated with strenuous activities. Seek medical advice from your primary physician to confirm your diagnosis and determine if red light therapy is right for you.
Get back into the swing of things with the Rouge collection of red light therapy devices today and find comfort in improving your recovery and relieve joint pain!