Lateral Epicondylitis vs. Common Extensor Tendon Strain

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Flexor pollicis longus (left) and deep muscles...

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Christmas and Hanukkah are both over, as the new year approaches, it is time for resolutions!  I made mine at the beginning of December.  Over this last summer, I was getting really out of shape and was struggling to run the bases in my softball league.  I was up at almost 300 pounds.  In September I decided that I needed to lose some weight and get in better shape.  I should not struggle to run from home plate to second base.  I returned to some Master’s swimming, but because we were opening a new clinic, I was only able to do it for a month.  At the beginning of December, I decided to try out Crossfit as an early start to my New Year’s Resolution.  So far it is going great, but I did sustain a minor injury to my right forearm extensor tendon.

Let’s talk about a forearm extensor tendon injury:

The extenosr muscles of the forearm insert by a common tendon into the lateral epicondyle.  This injury is often confused with lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow).  Lateral epicondylitis is called tennis elbow to the repetitive stress at the joint in performing a tennis backhand, so any activity that has a similar action can cause lateral epicondylitis. A muscle strain to the common extensor tendon may present very similar to lateral epicondylitis in that you have pain on the outer side of your elbow or just below the elbow.  In true lateral epicondylitis, the ligament that attaches to the lateral epicondylitis is stressed and pain will be elicited to touch of the lateral epicondyle. With an extensor tendon strain the epicondyle is not painful to touch.  In both injuries however there may be pain to touch of the common extensor tendon.  Both injuries can be classified as overuse injuries, but there are many more activities that can cause injury to the extensor tendon than the lateral epicondyle itself.

The approach in physical therapy to both of these is similar. Therapy will include manual therapy to loosen up the tissues in the area of the elbow, some posterior glide of the radial head, ultrasound to help calm down the inflammation, ice or ice massage, and some strengthening exercises to help increase the function of the wrist extensors.

When either injury first occurs, it is best to call your physical therapist.


Surviving the Holiday Season!

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English: Snow on the mountains of Southern Cal...
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You know winter is upon us when college football gets to the Bowl season, the NFL is in its playoff run, college basketball is warming up, and the NBA is opening on Christmas day.  Football season is closing and basketball season is beginning.  The holidays are coming up, and New Year’s Resolutions are getting prepared.

Every year around this time I make a resolution to stay away from the horrible seasonable foods and get into better shape to start the new year off right!  From experience, I know it’s a difficult task.

If you haven’t been keeping up with your activity, it is recommended to ease into an exercise and weight loss program.  If you get going to fast, you can injure yourself.  Here are some helpful guidelines to get through unscaved:

  • Begin any weight routine with light weights and progress to heavier weights as tolerated
  • If you want to start a cardio routine start with 15 minutes and see how you feel.  You can add more time and intensity as it becomes easier
  • Try using interval training- after a warm up period of around 5 minutes, go hard for 1 minute and rest for a minute and repeat.
  • You can make an apointment with a personal trainer and they can asses your fitness level and design a program specifically for you
  • Give yourself plenty of rest between exercise bouts.  Try taking 24-48 hours between sessions to start.

Exercise not only helps you shed unwanted pounds, but it boosts your immune system.  We all know that this time of year sickness abound throughout the office.  Getting in better shape will help you fight off the flu and you will feel more energized for the lines at the mall for holiday shopping.

If you do find yourself returning to activity to fast and have an injury, a physical therapist can help you through the injury and guide you through recovery to full participation in your exercise program.

For more information check out our last two newsletters:

11.21.11 –  Tips to Avoid Injury During Fall and Winter Activities

12.5.11 – Stay Healthy and Lose Weight During the Holidays