Getting rid of tennis elbow is ridiculously easy IF you have a clear understanding of what's really causing the pain. If you think it's because you have an inflammed tendon in your elbow, well, think again...
WHAT THE MICROSCOPE TELLS US ABOUT TENNIS ELBOW
To say that something is “inflammed” means that we should be able to find some hard evidence of inflammation. Without getting too caught up in details, inflammation can be broken down into two general patterns, acute and chronic. Here’s the difference between the two:
-acute inflammation is an immediate and early response to tissue injury. It comes on quick, but lasts for minutes, hours, or a few days. Neutrophils are the major kind of cells that are involved in acute inflammation.
-chronic inflammation is inflammation of a prolonged duration, such as weeks or months. Some of the major types of cells that are involved in chronic inflammation include macrophages, lymphocytes, and plasma cells.
Now it’s not important to know all about the different types of cells, although you may be interested to know that a lot of them are simply different types of white blood cells. What is important, however, is to know that these are exactly the kinds of cells we should be able to find in people with tennis elbow if the tendon or muscle is indeed “inflammed”– since these are the cells directly involved in the body’s inflammatory process. With this knowledge now in hand, let’s look at the results of a few studies from the published literature where researchers have closely examined the main problems muscle, the extensor carpi radialis brevis, in people with tennis elbow…
Potter 1995---20 samples---found disorganization and /or disruption of collagen fibers, mucoid degeneration, neovascularization, but no evidence of acute or chronic inflammation
Verhaar 1993---63 samples---found vascular proliferation, mucoid degeneration, but no evidence of any inflammatory reaction
Regan 1992---11 samples---vascular proliferation, hyaline degeneration, fibroblastic proliferation, calcific debris, but no evidence of inflammatory cells
Nirschl 1979---88 samples---immature fibroblastic and vascular infiltration
Well, as you can see from the above, it doesn’t look like researchers have reported finding many of the cells that are directly involved in the inflammatory process. Therefore, without some cellular proof of an inflammatory response, one has no basis to accurately say that there is indeed “inflammation” when one has tennis elbow. The evidence just isn’t there!
ON THE OTHER HAND, what researchers HAVE found when taking a piece of tendon at surgery and looking at it later under a microscope, are signs of failed tendon healing. Glancing back at the above studies, you’ll see that researchers noted, among other things…
-disrupted and disorganized collagen fibers. Collagen is a main ingredient that makes up your connective tissues–and it’s having a hard time coming together properly in the tendon!
-fibroblastic proliferation. Fibroblast cells work like a “construction crew” to make connective tissue. We see a lot of these little guys, some abnormal, floating around in the tendons of tennis elbow sufferers–so they’re obviously looking for work!
-vascular proliferation. Lots of blood vessels, many of which are abnormal and immature, are found in the area–a sign that tendon healing is trying to take place!
So what's the bottom line for the person trying to get rid of their tennis elbow? Don't waste your time treating inflammation, because the main problem going on here in your elbow is FAILED TENDON HEALING. You can find out more about how to treat the correct problem of failed tendon healing and get a pain-free elbow in Treat Your Own Tennis Elbow.