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Unresolveable Tennis Elbow

Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,

The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get Relief,
and more…

Want to skip ahead?
Here’s a link to my post about
getting relief on your own.

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

Start by Understanding the Anatomy.
About the coloring of the illustrations…

The structure of this muscle is more complex than it looks on the surface. Read more in this post about the anatomy of Supraspinatus.

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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Featured Post

Does Your Shoulder Hurt From the Covid-19 Vaccine?

This post offers quick, lasting relief from the pain in your shoulder that came from the vaccine. You will need an ice cube and about 2 minutes.

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistencies in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.