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What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis Elbow is an overuse injury that causes pain on the outer aspect of the elbow. A group of muscles on the back of the forearm (called the forearm extensors) which have a common bony attachment to the outer part of the elbow called the ‘lateral epicondyle’. These muscles attach to the bone via a tendon. The tendon becomes damaged due to high force contractions or excessive repetition and causes pain – the condition is called ‘Lateral Epicondylitis’.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain when bending or lifting the arm
  • Pain when straightening the elbow
  • Localised elbow pain that is worsened with touch
  • Pain worsening with gripping, opening doors and carrying heavy items

What causes Tennis Elbow?

Ironically, tennis elbow is seen more commonly in non-tennis players than in tennis players.

Patients with this condition complete activities that involve repeated wrist movements, often against resistance. This can be:

  • Racket sports
  • Painting
  • Chopping wood
  • Using a screwdriver
  • Working at a computer – typing and using the mouse

Physiotherapy for tennis elbow:

The goal of Physiotherapy for tennis elbow is to unload the extensor tendon to speed up the healing process and ensure a safe return to all activities.

We often use a variety of treatments to do this such as:

  • Taping to unload the tendon
  • Acupuncture to improve blood flow to the tendon
  • Soft tissue massage and trigger point release of the forearm muscles to alleviate pressure on the tendon
  • Joint mobilisation to allow improved movement at the elbow
  • Exercise prescription to strengthen the forearm muscles and heal the tendon

Author: Nicola Diamond – Senior Physiotherapist

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