ONS PT Patient Returns to Doing What She Loves Most

Old Greenwich artist, Felicity Kostakis, first noticed the pain in her right elbow while playing tennis. Over the course of a year, the pain invaded her day to day activities to the point that lifting clothing from the washer or taking a jar from the kitchen cabinet was excruciating. “I began to do everything with my left hand,” Felicity recalled.

Even more worrisome, it interfered with her ability to paint. “I was so scared it was the end. Painting is what I do every day. It’s what I love,” she said.

Not knowing what was wrong and fearing the worst, Felicity made an appointment with sports medicine specialist, Dr. Katherine Vadasdi, director of the ONS Women’s Sports Medicine Center.

“Dr. Vadasdi was amazing and so kind. With a digital x-ray machine right there in the office, I had everything done in the same appointment. It was so easy,” she said.  Dr. Vadasdi determined that Felicity had lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, probably due to Felicity’s renewed enthusiasm for the sport.  During the consultation, Dr. Vadasdi helped Felicity purchase the proper elbow braces from an online source, and prescribed a program of physical therapy to get her better.

As a mother of two and art teacher, the time commitment needed for physical therapy seemed daunting. Yet, when she was able to get an appointment right away with Tanya Kalyuzhny, DPT, MDT, the director of physical therapy at the ONS Greenwich office, Felicity was immediately confident the time would be well spent.

“I could tell that Tanya was very knowledgeable and experienced from the get go,” Felicity explained. “Every time she treated me, she talked me through the entire process, so I knew what she was doing, what I needed to do, and why it was important. “

Treatment began with laser therapy and light weight bearing exercises and eventually involved advanced therapies such as Graston technique and dry needling.

“It was really a pleasure to go there. Everyone was so supportive, the front desk staff, the PT technicians and the therapists. They were always involved with what I was doing. I never felt like I was forgotten or ignored,” she explained. When Tanya announced that Felicity had “graduated” and didn’t need therapy anymore, Felicity was surprised at the void she felt in her life.

“I built a real friendship with Tanya,” she said. “It’s funny to say, but overall it was a pleasurable experience. I recommend ONS to everyone. We are so lucky to have their offices right here in our own backyard. “

These days, Felicity is back doing what she loves most. Painting canvases large and small, teaching art classes at Greenwich Academy and privately, and spending time with her husband and two sons. And she’s anxious to start swinging the tennis racket once the warm weather finally arrives.

Get a grip on Tennis Elbow

Physical therapist Tatyana Kalyuzhny, DPT does therapy to relieve symptoms of tennis elbow.

 

Physical Therapist stresses strength building, flexibility and good mechanics

Along with the fun and friendly competition of a great game of tennis, comes the potential for tennis elbow, a degenerative condition of the tendon fibers which anchor the arm muscles used to extend or lift the wrist and hand. Those who suffer from tennis elbow will tell you that it can result in an abrupt end to your tennis season. Below, Tatyana Kalyuzhny, DPT, of ONS Physical Therapy offers the following precautions and tips on conditioning before you even make your first serve.

Tennis elbow

Symptoms of tennis elbow often include persistent pain on the outside of the elbow. It usually begins with mild pain and can continue for weeks or months. The pain can be increased by pressing on the outside of the elbow or by a gripping or lifting motion. In severe cases, minimal movement of the elbow joint can send pain radiating into the forearm.

The first line of treatment for tennis elbow is usually rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. After an evaluation, a doctor may prescribe a physical therapy program to stretch and strengthen the muscles in forearm.

Players who lack proper conditioning are the ones who are most vulnerable to most injuries including tennis elbow. Even if you’re a great player with a beautiful swing, if you lack proper conditioning and core strength, you are putting your body at an increased risk for injury. Proper mechanics plays a crucial role in avoiding injuries. The slightest amount of improper alignment can place added stress on tendons and ligaments. You may not notice the ill effects initially, but damage may be cumulative and build to a problem over time.

Conditioning for tennis should include exercises in core and hip strength in multi-directional planes, exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff and elbow and eccentric strengthening, which involves contracting the muscles while simultaneously elongating them to help the body absorb shock. In addition to strengthening, players need to maintain flexibility of their calves, hips and shoulders for proper mechanical efficiency.

A good warm-up for a tennis player should include light stretching followed by a gentle, five- to ten- minute rally session on court that employs some lateral and forward shuffles. Warm-up should be gradual and should aim to slowly increase your heart rate and get the muscles ready for play. You should avoid walking onto the court and swinging with full power at the ball.

 Six tips for preventing injuries

  •  Use proper technique. Have your swing and overall technique evaluated periodically by a professional.
  •  Incorporate a proper strengthening and conditioning program off the court.
  •  Maintain flexibility by stretching after play.
  •  Use proper equipment. Play with a racket that is the correct size, grip and weight for you.
  •  Wear proper footwear designed for tennis and not worn out.
  •  Avoid making sudden radical changes in your technique unless instructed by a professional.