Tennis Elbow

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Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epiconylitis)

 

INJURY OVERVIEW

Tennis elbow is a common injury affecting people who do and don’t play tennis. It is characterised mainly by pain on the outside of the elbow and is aggravated by most arm movements, particularly gripping.

 

INJURY IN-DEPTH INFORMATION

Tennis elbow is a very common injury which affects many different people including office workers, tennis players etc. The injury is overuse of the common tendon for the extensor muscles of the forearms (muscles that lift your wrist up). Symptoms tend to start gradually for no reason, or after repetitive gripping, lifting or use of vibration tools.

 

Its is characterised by a reduction in quality of a tendon on the outside of your elbow.  The significance of this tendon is that a lot of muscles converge to make it, and that it attaches to a very small area on the bone. 

 

Every tendon in your body will endure some microscopic damage from everyday use and this is totally normal and pain free.  However, in Tennis Elbow (an other tendonopathies) the tendon is never allowed ample time to recover before being subject to certain stresses again and again.  This makes the microscopic damage in the tendon accumulate and the overall condition of the tendon drops.  This doesn’t mean it will snap or anything, its just that what were considered (by you) as normal activities (typing, turning your front door key etc) are now enough to cause pain in that tendon because it is now being overloaded.

 

COMMON SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

A list of common signs & symptoms. Keep each one short and sweet i.e.

  • Pain outside elbow
  • Pain on gripping
  • Tender to touch

 

HOW IS IT ASSESSED

Tennis Elbow is somewhat over diagnosed.  Clinical testing for it, however, is fairly simple.  The use of specific questioning, palpation, muscle strength tests and mobility tests for the whole upper limb and neck, will aim to highlight the tendon as the main cause of symptoms.  Clinical examination will also discount other common potential causes of pain in that area – nerve irritation for example, can masquerade quite nicely as simple Tennis Elbow.

 

 

 

 

GENERAL TREATMENT

Treatment Tennis Elbow should aim to address the real problem that is causing symptoms.  Many people want to simply alleviate pain and are happy enough with that.  Only in acute and very mild stages may this be enough.  However, most people report fairly long periods of suffering with this at various intensities.  When this is the case, simply getting pain medication wont be enough to cure the problem.  Treatment should attend to the drop on tendon quality.  This is done through specific exercise programmes that target the tendon specifically and also the global strength of the upper limb. 

 

Stretching is great self treatment.  There are many spinal and upper limb stretches that will help prevent soft tissue tightening that can lead to tennis elbow and/or add to its symptoms.

 

Manual therapy can help with elbow mobility and releasing soft tissue tightness that can be adding to the problem

 

Use of taping and also an ‘epiclasp’ can help to offload portions of the tendon thus helping is heal under less stress.

 

If pain is severe and rehab exercises only aggravate the pain then other modalities can be sought. Pain medication in tablet or injection form are often helpful but should only be done in conjunction with a rehab program.  

 

Exercise Videos: i.e.

  • Rotator cuff strengthening
  • Pec stretch
  • etc

 

WHICH HEALTH PROFESSIONAL TO CONSULT

PHYSIO     X

MEDIC     X

PODIATRY     

 

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