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Unresolveable Tennis Elbow

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How People Describe This Pain Pattern

People complain about persistent tennis elbow even though they’ve tried many different things around the elbow to get relief.  They usually don’t talk about the shoulder problem until I ask them if it has troubled them. When asked, tennis players will often reveal that the elbow pain flares up when serving as this muscle helps to lift the shoulder to serve. They see the shoulder as less worrisome as it is often sore. In this case, the elbow pain is sharper and more acute.

Clicking in Shoulder

When asked, they may talk about the other symptoms and causes related to supraspinatus like a shoulder that clicks and hurts when reaching to brush their teeth, injury from a pulling dog, pain when carrying bags, etc. 

When the primary complaint is the pain deep in the shoulder, the therapist usually quick to assess and treat this muscle. As well, the secondary focus of elbow pain goes away.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

This is aggravated by activities that lift the arm out to the side, especially when the movement is heavy, jerky, or sustained. This might include:

  • lateral raises, deadlifts, and other weight training with weights in the hands and out to the side
  • Carrying suitcases, bags of dirt, concrete blocks, groceries, and trash
  • Serving the ball and overhead shots in tennis

This is also aggravated by activities that jerk the arm, especially down:

  • dog on a leash
  • holding the strap on public transportation
  • jerking to get a heavy suitcase on the bed

The shoulder is particularly ripe to get injured when jerking the suitcase onto the bed. Often people have already strained and overworked this muscle by carrying bags all day.

The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

Musculoskeletal Anatomy

About these Illustrations…

This post on anatomy contains standard information about the origin, insertion, function, and innervation of muscles. It also includes information on functional considerations and anomalies.

Find Related Posts

Anatomy posts have a grid of all related posts. This includes posts on pain patterns, self-care, therapy notes, NMT protocols, cranial techniques, and cases.

Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Strategies

There are stretches and exercises that can help. Look at this post for ideas that are clinically proven to work.

Therapy Notes for Massage and Bodywork

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise

This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.

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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.

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