What is it and what causes it?
Tennis elbow is otherwise known as lateral epicondylitis and in most cases it’s due to overload of the common extensor tendon located at the outside of the elbow. In some instances, the extensor tendon can be acutely injured through lifting or loading, causing a tear in the tendon.
This causes pain in the outside of the elbow which is generally localised to one point. The pain is easily aggravated with activities such as lifting the jug to pour a cup of tea, gripping a door handle or tennis racket or cooking and cutting up food. The pain can be quite debilitating and can impact both work and sporting activities.
Despite its name, it’s not only tennis players that get this injury, but any activity that combines both wrist and elbow movement and gripping under load often in a repetitive manner – for example a builder using a hammer or a tennis player putting excessive spin on the ball or doing a one armed backhand.
The tendon gets loaded beyond its ability to manage which causes changes within the tendon structure resulting in pain and often weakness in the forearm extensors. Tennis elbow injuries can result in a significant difference in grip strength between the affected and unaffected arm.
Due to the overload component, there are often other biomechanical factors involved such as decreased shoulder and shoulder blade strength and imbalances or problems with technique when related to sporting activities.
Consideration of the amount of sport being played, correct technique and frequency and intensity of activity needs to be addressed.
The treatment of tennis elbow
Physiotherapy is very beneficial for the treatment of tennis elbow. It helps with tendon rehabilitation through strengthening and local muscle release through the forearm which can assist with pain alleviation. It is also key to identifying any biomechanical or load issues which caused the injury originally.
Tendons typically are temperamental but generally do well with the right amount of load and strengthening treatment.
Getting treatment for your injury sooner rather than later certainly helps with the overall rehabilitation outcome of a pain-free and strong elbow.
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Ph: 09 378 6890