Pelham - Windham News April 8, 2011 - 11
by Kerry Raymond Tennis
elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is one of the most common overuse conditions that can
occur in the arm. Pain is experienced
along the outside of the elbow, or lateral epicondyle. If the inflammation persists, pain can become constant, making it difficult for the simplest of tasks to be completed, such as raking or opening a jar. This condition can
be caused by activities that involve sustained, repetitive, or heavy gripping that require the wrist extensors to work hard to stabilize the wrist. Pain will be especially noticed while reaching. If this happens repeatedly, micro tears can occur at the outside of the elbow in the tendon, and pain and swelling can be experienced. Unlike your muscle bellies, tendons do not have a good blood supply, slowing healing and making it more difficult to treat this injury. So what can be done to speed
recovery? Minimizing symptoms once they occur, and then prevention is key to a speedy recovery. Before trying various remedies, you should consult with your physician to determine that you do have lateral epicondylitis, as there are other causes of pain at the
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elbow. Here are a few suggestions that can be helpful: • Stretch: Stretching the forearm musculature is very important prior to as well as during the activity.
you are performing a repetitive activity such as playing tennis or raking, take short breaks every hour to stretch your arms. Stretching should make you feel better, not worse. Consult with your therapist for proper techniques and stretches.
• Change it up: When possible, change the activity that you are doing to give your muscles a break. Also make sure that you are set up properly at your work site to minimize stress to the muscles and tendons in your arms.
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• Counterforce brace around the forearm: Braces come in all different sizes, and it is important that you find the one that works best for you. Read the instructions carefully and try before you buy. Perform a simple test before purchasing; with the arm stretched out, make a strong fist and take note the amount of pain you have. Apply the strap, and perform the same test. You should experience a considerably lesser amount of pain. If you do not feel
any difference, try moving the strap to a slightly different place and try again. If there is no change, it will not be worth purchasing. It should only be used during activity and not while sleeping.
• Over-the-counter splint: Splints that allow the fingers to be free but support the wrist can be helpful in relieving pain. A splint can be worn at night while sleeping to prevent constant pulling on the forearm musculature, allowing them to heal. It can also be worn during specific activities that you know to cause pain.
• Massage: Massaging the area a couple of times a day for 5-10 minutes will help increase blood flow to the tendon. Tendons do not have a very good blood supply, and
massage can be helpful. There are various techniques such as friction massage and deep tissue massage that can be beneficial. Consult with your therapist to review these techniques.
• Ice: Ice should be done after activities that you know typically increase your pain or at the end of the day. Even if you are feeling better but have had tennis elbow for quite some time, continue to ice for 10-20 minutes, and always have a layer between the ice and you, such as a pillowcase. There are many things that can be done to help minimize the pain and speed recovery for tennis elbow. The key is not to delay, as it is much harder to treat once it has gone on for weeks. Follow up with your physician so that proper treatment can be started.
Kerry Raymond is an occupational therapist and co-owner of Independence Therapy Associates in Windham. She has 20 years experience as an OT and has been a Certified Hand Therapist for over 10 years. She specializes in hand and upper extremity therapy and work injuries. Free screenings are available by appointment.
Is My Child Eating Enough?
With childhood obesity epidemics on the rise, many parents and healthcare providers are concerned about the dietary habits of children. However, many parents to toddlers or even school-aged children may wonder if their children are eating enough.
Children often go through periods of finicky eating or disinterest in food. It is not uncommon to have a child who eats a wide variety of foods when he is younger only to dislike the same foods a year or two later. Most doctors say that if a child is growing and active,
chances are that he is healthy and getting enough food. If the opposite is true, there may be some cause for concern. Parents should consult the child’s pediatri- cian if eating habits seem to be compromising their child’s growth or energy levels.
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should be getting at least 3 tablespoons of food. If the child is interested in more food, certainly offer it. If he pushes food away after eating, don’t force more on him. Most children should have 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. Toddlers may not eat enough in one meal to remain full until the next meal. Small, healthy snacks of vegetables, whole-grain crackers or low-fat dairy products can help take the edge off of hunger. Health experts say that it can take several introductions to a new food before the child be- comes accustomed to its taste and texture. It may be a good idea to offer a variety of new foods together with something he already enjoys eating. It’s also common for kids to only eat one type of food over and over again. Don’t worry that the child is not getting enough nutrition. Chances are he will grow out of this stage and soon enjoy a variety of foods. Threats or punishments to eat will only serve to cause a poor relationship with food, advise childhood experts. Also, don’t bribe a child to eat with the reward of a snack or dessert later on. This sets a poor example of eating and could lead to behavioral problems. Many children develop finicky eating habits.
However, as long as a youngster is growing regu- larly and has plenty of energy for daily activities, there’s a good chance that the foods being eaten are not interfering with health.
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