Tennis Elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis / Epicondylalgia
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that involves inflammation and pain in the outer part of the elbow. It is a common injury that can occur from repetitive use of the forearm and wrist, such as playing tennis, typing, or using a screwdriver.
Causes of Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is usually caused by repetitive motion or overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons that attach to the outer part of the elbow. The following activities can increase your risk of developing tennis elbow:
Playing tennis: Tennis elbow is a common injury among tennis players due to the repetitive motion of hitting the ball with a backhand stroke.
Other sports: Any activity that involves repetitive gripping or wrist extension, such as golf, racquetball, and fencing, can also lead to tennis elbow.
Manual labor: Jobs that require repetitive motions of the forearm and wrist, such as plumbing, carpentry, and painting, can also lead to tennis elbow.
Computer use: Typing or using a mouse for long periods of time can also contribute to the development of tennis elbow.
Age and gender: Tennis elbow is most common in people between the ages of 30 and 50, and it is slightly more common in men than women.
Improper technique: Using improper technique or equipment, such as a tennis racquet that is too heavy or not properly strung, can also increase your risk of developing tennis elbow.
It is important to take breaks and stretch regularly, as well as to use proper technique and equipment, to reduce the risk of developing tennis elbow.
Signs and Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
The most common sign of tennis elbow is pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow. The pain may radiate down the forearm and be more intense when gripping or lifting objects. Other signs and symptoms may include:
- Stiffness: The elbow may feel stiff or difficult to move, especially in the morning or after a period of rest.
- Weakness: You may experience weakness in your grip, making it difficult to hold onto objects or perform certain tasks.
- Swelling: The outer part of the elbow may be tender and swollen.
- Tenderness: The outer part of the elbow may be tender to the touch.
- Numbness or tingling: You may experience numbness or tingling in the fingers, which can be a sign of nerve irritation or compression.
- Pain when extending the wrist: You may experience pain when extending the wrist, such as when lifting a weight or turning a doorknob.
- Pain when shaking hands: You may experience pain when shaking hands, as well as other activities that involve gripping or twisting the forearm.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with a medical professional to determine the best course of treatment. With proper care and treatment, most people with tennis elbow are able to make a full recovery.
Treatment for Tennis Elbow
Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment for tennis elbow. A physiotherapist can help to develop an individualized treatment plan based on the severity of the injury and the patient’s specific needs. Here are some common physiotherapy treatments for tennis elbow:
Manual therapy: A physiotherapist may use manual therapy techniques, such as massage or joint mobilization, to help reduce pain, inflammation, and muscle tension.
Exercise therapy: Exercise therapy can help to strengthen the muscles in the forearm and wrist, as well as to improve flexibility and range of motion. A physiotherapist can provide specific exercises to target the affected muscles and joints.
Taping or bracing: Taping or bracing the elbow can help to reduce stress on the muscles and tendons, as well as to provide support and stability.
Electrotherapy: Modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or laser therapy may be used to help reduce pain and inflammation.
Education and advice: A physiotherapist can provide advice on proper technique for activities that may aggravate the injury, as well as recommend modifications to reduce stress on the affected area.
Gradual return to activity: A physiotherapist can provide guidance on how to gradually return to activities, such as sports or manual labor, while minimizing the risk of re-injury.
It is important to work with a qualified and experienced physiotherapist to ensure the best possible outcome for your tennis elbow injury.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about tennis elbow please call us at 03 9836 1126.
Hegedus EJ, Goode A, Campbell S, Morin A, Tamaddoni M, Moorman CT 3rd, Cook C. Physical therapy for lateral epicondylitis: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med.