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
- 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