Tennis elbow is also referred to as lateral epicondylitis and is a common overuse injury. With appropriate management, the majority of minor tennis elbow cases usually recover within a few weeks; more chronic conditions can be a slightly more lengthy process and take several months to heal.
What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is an injury to your muscles that bring your wrist and hand towards you (Wrist and finger extension) and pain is normally felt on the lateral epicondyle: the body bump on the outside of the elbow- this is where the muscles attach.
What causes tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is caused by damage to the muscle tissue at the point where it attaches to the bone of the arm at the elbow. It occurs when more force is put on an area than normal healthy tissue can cope with.
Common causes include:
- Excessive wringing action or gripping action
- Poor strength in forearm muscles or tight muscles
- Unaccustomed hand use e.g. lots of typing, hammering or painting a fence
- Poor sporting technique such as a poor tennis shot, inadequate warm up, excessive/inappropriate activity
In some cases like chronic tennis elbow, the condition can occur as the soft tissues are in poor health and easily damaged.
What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?
Symptoms tend to develop gradually and initially symptoms may be more of an aching pain following activity that aggravates the condition.
Usually, pain is localised and felt when doing gripping tasks or resisted finger/wrist extension and pain can be felt when the muscles are stretched. Tenderness is present directly over the lateral epicondyle.
Weakness may also present in the wrist and hand during certain movements that cause increased pain.
How is tennis elbow diagnosed?
Your physiotherapist can carry out a full elbow examination to find out if you have tennis elbow and carry out a series of tests to confirm diagnosis. Sometimes further examinations such as scans may be required to rule out other causes.
What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for tennis elbow?
Following a thorough assessment, your physiotherapist will provide you with an individual treatment plan based on your symptoms. There are several treatment options for tennis elbow and the treatment methods your physiotherapist chooses will be post appropriate to your symptoms and responses to treatment.
Treatment can include:
- Mobilisation of joints
- Muscle stretches
- Neural mobilisations
- Soft tissue massage
- Strengthening exercises
- Anti-inflammatory advice
- Training and activity modification advice
- Ice or heat therapy
- Use of a brace
- Graded return to activity/sporting
Benefit of physiotherapy for tennis elbow?
There are several benefits of physiotherapy for tennis elbow, allowing you to make a quick recovery. The particular benefits you feel following physiotherapy will depend on your symptoms and goals.
Physiotherapy assists with:
- Reduced elbow pain
- Tissue repair facilitation
- Restored or improved range of movement
- Restored or improved muscle strength and movement
- Normalisation of neurodynamics of upper limb
- Prevention of injury re-occurring