What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) is an injury or irritation caused by overuse of the forearm muscle attachment (extensor tendons) on the outside of the elbow.
Site and cause of symptoms?
With the palm of the hand facing upwards, the bony point on the outside of the elbow is normally tender and some people might experience tenderness in the forearm muscles and possibly some pain down the outside or along the top of the forearm.
Gripping can often be painful as well as any activities that involve overuse of the forearm muscles (extensors) or heavy lifting. Poor technique in tennis, throwing sports, or other racket sports can also cause aggravation. Poor proximal muscle stabililty, for example around the shoulder blade and trunk, can often cause extra strain on the extensor tendons. Tennis elbow is an overuse injury that usually comes on gradually.
Is pain on the outside of the elbow always Tennis Elbow?
No. In fact, neck problems or neck injuries can refer pain to the elbow, even in the absence of experiencing any neck pain, and therefore it is advisable to have a physiotherapist assess the problem to diagnose the cause of the problem. Once the cause is identified, treatment can target the correct area.
How can it be treated?
Physiotherapy has been shown to be very effective in relieving the symptoms of Tennis Elbow. The physiotherapy will reduce the pain, restore full range of motion, restore muscle strength and length, and stimulate tissue repair.
If the physiotherapist has found neck or nerve tissue involvement, the neck will also be treated. Any reduced mobility in the neck joints, as well as reduced neurodynamics (mobility of the nerve tissue), will be restored.
Treatment might consist of advice on correct technique and posture, gentle elbow and neck joint mobilisations, soft tissue massage, exercise and muscle stretching prescription, neural mobilisations, taping, electrotherapy, acupuncture, advice on a tennis elbow brace, and advice on other self-help techniques. If the problem originates from trunk muscle weakness (lack of core stability) then exercises to target this area will be prescribed and Pilates may be recommended.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call the team at PhysiOptima!