How do I Diagnose Tennis Elbow?
When you are experiencing elbow pain, the best way to diagnose this condition is with a quick visit to the your doctor for a physical examination of your elbow. Getting a proper diagnosis is important so you can treat your condition correctly.
Untreated chronic elbow pain can cause bone spurs and/or the break down tendon tissue in your elbow, becoming even more painful than before. Keep in mind, however, your symptoms may be caused by a similar condition to tennis elbow having similar symptoms in the elbow, forearm, wrist, or hand.
Understanding your medical history and individual lifestyle will help your physician provide the best diagnosis possible. To begin with, your doctor will gather a medical history about you and your current condition and symptoms. The diagnosis will be based on:
- The severity and duration of your injury
- Your level and type of pain (does it hurt during or after activity or do you experience pain all the time? Do you experience pain while flexing your fingers, turning your wrist, or only when extending your forearm?)
- How your symptoms are affecting your lifestyle (Are your symptoms mildly aggravating or causing you to limit or stop normal, daily activity?)
- Your general health and well-being
- Your age and current level of physical ability
- Your participation in activity
Your physician will discuss what factors led to your injury. This can include investigating the techniques, equipment, and training used in your activity, sport, or occupation. The duration of your injury will determine whether you are suffering from acute (short term) or chronic (long term) Tennis Elbow. Some treatments are only suitable for short term symptoms while others are used to effectively heal chronic injuries.
All of these things will indicate to your physician, the severity of your injury. This will help them determine which type of conservative treatment will provide the most effective healing. Depending on the duration and severity of your injury, you may even require surgery. It is important to speak to your physician as soon as possible to limit potential damage to your elbow and start the healing process.
Your physician will conduct a physical exam to determine if you are suffering from tennis elbow or a related condition. During your physical exam, your doctor will visually assess your elbow by asking you to extend and flex your elbow, wrist, and fingers. During these exercises, your doctor will place pressure on certain areas of your arm. Your physical exam will help your physician asses your range of motion, muscle and grip strength, joint stability, and pain. Pain or discomfort communicates to your doctor that the muscles, tendons, joints, or tissues may not be healthy. A physical examination of your arm will alert your physician to any physical abnormalities. This could include inflammation, swelling, bone deformity, or atrophied muscle.
Typically, your medical history and physical exam will give your physician enough information to make a diagnosis. If your doctor believes that your symptoms are due to something other than Tennis Elbow, further testing will need to be done to determine the correct diagnosis.
It is rare that more complex diagnostic techniques will be used to diagnose Tennis Elbow, but they can be effective in helping determine the cause of your symptoms. An X-Ray, which uses short electromagnetic radiation waves to create an image, can help your doctor get a detailed picture of your bone structure. This can help determine if a fracture or arthritis are the cause of your symptoms.
Your body is a complex system; everything is interconnected. Because of this, problems in your neck, shoulder, or arm could cause symptoms similar to Tennis Elbow. An MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging sends out a strong magnetic field and radio waves over your body. This creates an image of your bones and soft tissues. An MRI can help doctors see if there is an issue in another part of your body.
An EMG or Electromyography test uses small wires placed in your muscles to detect any changes in nerve signals during movement. When assessing your elbow, this test is helpful in determining if your symptoms are being caused by a pinched nerve.
Your physician will check for inflammatory conditions such as bursitis, which affects liquid filled capsules in the joint or osteochondritis which affects the cartilage or bone of a joint.
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The good news is that most cases of tennis elbow will heal with simple home conservative treatments and surgery is often not needed! It's generally understood by doctors and surgeons, that surgery will introduce more scar tissue into the elbow. This added scar tissue will be problematic, requiring physical therapy and conservative treatment options post-surgery. This is why surgery is only performed as a last resort for chronic elbow injuries or a fractured bone that won't heal with conservative treatment methods.
Some conservative treatment methods recommended include:
- Rest - This is important for initial healing because without proper rest you're at risk for increased pain, inflammation. This can make your elbow even worse and turn an acute injury into a chronic one.
- Avoid Activities that Caused Your Injury - While resting your elbow it's also important to avoid all activities that may have caused your tennis elbow (especially any repetitive arm, hand or wrist movement). Continuing on with regular activities will not only make your injury worse.
- Apply Effective Cold Compression
Effective Cold Compression = Treatment with a Freezie Wrap® Immediate cold (using a Freezie Wrap®) will help you to manage pain while getting rid of the pain and inflammation. Reducing inflammation can also relieve some of the pressure that's being placed on your elbow tissue(s) and stop your injury from getting worse.
- Use Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ - After any inflammation and/or swelling has been reduced, you can use your own blood flow to maximize healing of damaged tissue and maintain healthy blood flow to your elbow. This also boost overall long-term healing of this injury.
Step 1 - Reduce Pain & Swelling with a Freezie Wrap®
The 1st step for conservative treatment of your elbow when treating conservatively or even after surgery is to reduce swelling to "open up" the area for more blood flow. Anyone in the health-care business knows that your blood supplies the oxygen and much needed nutrients required for your body to heal naturally after surgery. This is why doctors and surgeons recommend cold compression therapy within the first 72 hours of an injury and following elbow surgery.
Cold compression therapy is recommended to reduce pain, swelling and tissue damage. Many doctors, surgeons and physical therapists consider cold compression therapy to be the gold standard for treatment of inflammation and pain. On-going cold compression treatments can reduce, or even eliminate, the need for NSAIDs or other medications that can be harmful to your body.
Cold compression therapy is known and trusted by most medical professionals. This is why for years doctors, trainers and other medical professionals have recommended RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) to treat the pain and swelling of fresh injuries, chronic pain, after any re-injury, and especially after surgery.
Although RICE can help to treat these symptoms, ice and inferior gel packs reach temperatures so low they can cause cryoburn, an ice burn on your skin. The problem is, up until now there hasn't been any other option to treat painful conditions and injuries with effective cold compression, so ice and blue gel packs (full of antifreeze and chemicals) have been the only choice up until now.
Fortunately you no longer have to settle for these ice cold methods that are uncomfortably cold against your skin, provide short term relief, cause ice burns, and numb your skin and underlying tissue beyond feeling so you don't even notice the ice burn until it's too late. You can also get rid of those cold packs that warm up soon after you pull them out of the freezer and gel that pools around your injury putting the short-term cold everywhere except for where you need it most - on your elbow injury!
The Freezie Wrap® is the cold compression tool you need for your post-surgical recovery to treat yourself in an effective and convenient way.
When used on a tennis elbow injury, our Freezie Wraps® provide:
- The highest-level of cold compression to quickly decrease pain, swelling, inflammation and draw the heat out of your elbow.
- A tailored wrap that conforms perfectly around your elbow.
- Effective cold compression that's unlike any other cold compression wrap out there.
- Cold temperatures that stay right over your elbow injury for the entire length of your treatment.
- A home-based solution with consistent (daily) cold treatments that reduces swelling fast, decreases tissue damage after injury or surgery, and opens up the vessels in and around your elbow to receive the blood flow circulation needed to heal quickly and naturally.
- Heavier, more substantial gel packs containing a special formulation of gel - called RigiGel®.
RigiGel® is our trademarked name for a unique gel formula that's made out of food-grade, non-toxic material which holds the cold for an extended period of time. This specially formulated gel also features non-migrating gel technology that makes our Elbow Freezie Wrap® truly different from any other wrap available on the market.
RigiGel® is a patented formula that gives you:
- More cooling power per pound of gel than standard cold compression wraps.
- More gel than other wraps, meaning every time you put one on it will keep your elbow cold for a longer period; pain relief is enhanced and swelling is better controlled.
Our special RigiGel® packs can be chilled in the fridge or freezer to tailor the amount of cold that you need for your injury. It doesn't matter how you cool it down, because our gel packs are chock full of gel that's designed to cool down into millions of tiny snowflakes. This method of cooling means our gel packs aren't icy-cold, just perfectly cold enough to give you the most effective cold compression available.
The cushioned gel will wrap around your elbow and it won't budge for the entire treatment period. You'll no longer have to deal with annoying pooling around your elbow or have to hold a hard block of ice on your injury!
Effective Cold Compression Therapy slows nerve and cell function - reducing the swelling that blocks blood vessels from doing their job.
This is important because once blood vessels are blocked or damaged, they can no longer carry oxygenated blood through the tissue and tissue cells begin to break-down. Without cold compression therapy cellular break-down and tissue damage continues as the cells don't get the oxygen they need to survive. By limiting the amount of damage done to your elbow, you also limit the amount of healing that needs to occur. This is a very important step to heal elbow injuries faster and with less pain! This is why you need to treat your elbow injury as soon as possible, when you notice pain / swelling / inflammation, directly after a re-injury or surgery. Applying a Elbow Freezie Wrap® right away will stop the damage immediately and unblock your blood vessels to let your body's natural blood flow in to start healing the tissue.
The Freezie Wrap® = Effective Cold Compression Therapy
It'll seem weird for you to read this, but there are a LOT of people out there that don't understand how fast cold compression with Elbow Freezie Wrap® can get the swelling / inflammation in your elbow under control! After you get rid of the swelling for good you can start actually dealing with your elbow injury and the healing needed.
Use a Cold Compression Elbow Freezie Wrap®:
- 24 to 72 hours after your initial injury or when you first notice pain and swelling around your injured elbow to stop cellular damage, relieve pain, and decrease swelling.
- After exercise, workouts or activity of any kind to prevent re-injury of your elbow.
- Before and after surgery during rehabilitation to control pre and post-surgery pain and swelling.
- Anytime you feel your injury is making your elbow feel tender, painful or you're having a flare-up of an old elbow injury.
- Anytime you have swelling, sharp throbbing pain or inflammation.
- Any other situation where you need to draw the pain and inflammation out of your elbow.
Step 2 - Improve Circulation, Soften Scar Tissue & Prevent Re-Injury with Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™
There are a lot of people that think their tennis elbow injury is gone after their swelling and inflammation are gone and their elbow feels better. They also make the mistake of returning to regular activities too soon without proper time for healing. The truth is that healing takes time and after the swelling is gone your elbow injury isn't even close to being fully healed.
After the inflammation in and around your elbow has been reduced, providing extra blood flow and strengthening the tissue in and around your elbow is recommended. Believe it or not, the best time for you to focus on avoiding re-injury and strengthening the weakened tissue in your elbow is when the swelling's gone and your elbow has started to heal. It's vital that you don't go back to activities too soon because you might bring on a major setback in your recovery...
- Have you recently re-injured your elbow by returning to your normal daily activities too quickly?
- How many times in the past have you aggravated your elbow just trying to perform basic tasks around your house?
- Is your tennis elbow preventing you from work or activities you love to do?
If this sounds like you - You're not alone...
Most people we deal with tell us these scenarios have happened to them many times in the past. The real challenge is how to promote blood flow to your injured elbow without causing further damage. This goal is even more complicated by the fact that you have to use your arm / elbow for almost everything in everyday life.
What can you do to actually start healing your tennis elbow?
The answer is simple. Your body can heal itself and it's the blood in your body that makes it all happen. Your blood is how everything that's good inside of you is transported directly to your injured elbow tissue. Your blood carries oxygen, nutrients, water and antibodies right to the source of your injury and pain. Bringing proper blood flow to your injured elbow is essential for healing.
Promoting blood flow around injured tissue to help the body heal itself is a concept that's been used for centuries. Oxygen and nutrients, carried in your own blood, are critical for the body to heal itself. Without proper blood flow, recovering from your elbow injury will be delayed... Sometimes for a very long period of time.
Even though the concept is simple, improving blood flow to your elbow can be difficult. When an injury occurs to the elbow. Traditional methods require you to move your sore/stiff elbow in order to promote blood flow. This same motion that promotes blood flow can also make your pain and elbow injury much worse. Relying on movement alone to increase blood flow puts you in danger of re-injuring your elbow.
So what do you do when you need to increase blood flow, but you can't move your elbow /arm without re-injuring your tissue?
This is where the Elbow Inferno Wrap® and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®) come in!
Using Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®), will help with your recovery and heal your elbow more completely. BFST® increases the amount of blood that flows naturally to your soft tissue to nourish your elbow, improving elasticity and speeding the healing process. This increased Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ to your damaged elbow is greatly needed to complete your healing and avoid re-injury once and for all.
The only way to get BFST® is through use of a Elbow Inferno Wrap®.
The Elbow Inferno Wrap® is the only treatment method that improves blood flow and circulation on a deep tissue level. Other methods of warming / heating tissue (hot water bottles, hot baths, etc) will only ever increase blood flow on a surface / skin level. These methods need a LOT of time to even reach your damaged tendon on a deep tissue level. And even if you were to use them this long your skin would heat up to an uncomfortable level and it may even burn you.
The best source of heat treatment is from a product where you don't even feel that much heat. When you don't feel the heat, it means the therapy is working in your deep soft tissue which is really where you need it. It's kind of like how your heart works in your body. You can't "feel" your heart pumping blood all around your body to your arms and legs. You can't even hear your own heartbeat without listening very closely. This is exactly how deep tissue BFST® works too!
You're not supposed to "feel" a lot of heat because the heat isn't treating your skin, it's treating your tennis elbow, increasing the blood flow right where your injury is!
- When treating a tennis elbow or any soft tissue injury, an effective therapy will increase blood flow to the injury while your elbow is immobile.
- This increase in blood flow will accelerate the body's own ability to heal itself.
- The Elbow Inferno Wrap® is the most highly effective blood flow stimulation device that you'll find on the market that is approved by the FDA for use in the home or hospital.
Regular treatments with a Elbow Inferno Wrap® can reduce pain and stiffness from scar tissue and increase overall flexibility in your elbow. Increased blood flow will whisk away damaged tissue, toxins, and any bacteria in or around your injured elbow to promote more effective healing. Getting rid of toxins will allow all of the positive healing processes to start in your injury. Increasing blood flow will also increase the amount of oxygen that's being sent to your injured tissue AND boost your tissue's ability to absorb oxygen. (reference: 1)
How Does the Elbow Inferno Wrap® Promote BFST®?
Every Inferno Wrap® contains a patented Energy Web® that's flexible and shaped to conform around your elbow. The Energy Web® provides a uniform wave of healing electromagnetic energy over the entire treatment area. This energy travels deep inside your soft tissue to stimulate blood flow on the deep tissue level where it's needed to heal your injury. It's the electromagnetic energy provided provided by our Inferno Wraps® that's crucial to the healing process.
Electromagnetic energy is the only way to get your blood flow moving on a deep tissue level for these reasons:
- Electromagnetic energy waves are not heat waves.
- When emitted from the Inferno Wrap®, electromagnetic energy waves penetrate right through your skin and fat layers until they get to your damaged tissue.
- Once these energy waves reach your injured elbow tendon, they're absorbed and quickly converted into heat energy right at the location of your injury.
- The idea of electromagnetic energy waves is slowly catching on in North American, but the truth is, it's a technology that's been used for decades.
Many people just don't know that over the past 30 years, researchers in Japan and China have completed extensive studies on the use of electromagnetic energy for healing and their findings have been impressive. Success has been reported in studies from countries like Sweden and Germany. Research is continuing and soon, much of North American will know what the Far East and Europe has known for a long time...
Electromagnetic energy provides a wide range of health benefits for those not only suffering from a tennis elbow, but for many other soft tissue injuries as well.
Regular treatment with the electromagnetic energy in our Inferno Wraps® will ensure:
- Your pain will be reduced.
- Your injured elbow will heal at an accelerated rate with reduced potential for re-injury.
- Your knee will have a larger range of motion and increased extensibility of collagen tissue in your joint and around your meniscus. (Chapter 9 of "Therapeutic Heat and Cold", 4th edition. (amazon.com link - Ed. Justus F. Lehmann, M.D., Williams, and Wilkin)
Electromagnetic Energy = Increased Blood Flow = More Oxygen, More Nutrients and Less Toxins = Faster Healing
Our Inferno Wraps® are uniquely patented designs that are better than other alternatives out there for more than just the electromagnetic energy they provide! Our wraps are made from medical-grade material - this should be as important to you as it is to us. Other products that are sold in stores are considered "consumer goods" meaning the material only needs to be as good as a sweater that you wear. Clothing articles like this don't need to meet high standards of production or materials and may include materials that irritate your skin.
Since our wraps are medical-grade products registered with the FDA, they are of a higher quality and need to meet way more standards for manufacturing (ISO 10993 - biocompatibility testing). This makes our wraps the safest product to increase blood flow circulation.
Our manufacturer has spent years perfecting the wrap design to make sure you get the treatment you deserve!
Use A BFST® Tennis Elbow Inferno Wrap®:
- After swelling and inflammation have been reduced with cold compression.
- Before exercise or workouts to warm up your elbow to prevent re-injury.
- Before and after tennis elbow surgery, during rehabilitation, to warm up your elbow before physical therapy exercising or stretching.
- Anytime you feel your elbow has stiffened up, is tight and your mobility is reduced causing you more pain.
- Anytime you have sore or aching tissue in and around your elbow.
- Any other situation where you need to increase blood flow to your elbow to relax your soft tissue, relieve pain, prevent re-injury and enhance flexibility of your tissue.
Prevention and Promotion of Lifelong Health
If you want to avoid re-injury, or manage pain and increase circulation for lifelong health benefits a Elbow Freezie Wrap® and Inferno Wrap® will provide the results you are looking for.
Why spend time in pain, off from work, and missing out on your active lifestyle when you can be proactive about your injury and the health of your body? Talk to your doctor about incorporating a regular routine of using a Freezie Wrap® and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™.
Call one of our AidMyTennisElbow Advisers at no cost or obligation to address any lingering questions you have about using heat or cold for your elbow injury - toll free 1-866-237-9608
Learn More About SUPERIOR Tennis Elbow Treatments
Learn more about the The Cold Compression Freezie Wrap®
Learn more about the BFST Inferno Wrap®
Learn more about the Post Surgery Rehab