By Victoria Athey BSc MSc MCSP. Physiotherapist and Sports Massage Therapist at 360Athletic
Tennis elbow is a commonly known injury but its not actually all about tennis, anyone can get it!
Are you experiencing pain around the outside of elbow? Is it tender to touch? Stopping you from typing on your laptop or carrying the shopping bags? If unfortunately this sounds like you don’t worry this article is here to help you stop that pain!
Symptoms Of Tennis Elbow
- Pain along the outside of the elbow
- Pain on carrying/ lifting and typing tasks
- Pain with gripping objects
- Worsening symptoms
- No traumatic major incident
The symptoms listed above are likely indicators you have ‘tennis elbow’ also known as lateral epicondylalgia. But what exactly does that mean:
What Is Tennis Elbow?
It is a common overuse injury of the muscles and tendons that move your wrist, they extend from your wrist to insert on the outside of your elbow which is why the pain is experienced in this region. Usually this will develop from repetitive activities meaning the tendons are ‘over worked’ leading to some fibre degeneration even tiny tears and lots of irritation in seemingly small every day tasks.
Why Does It Start?
Okay I understand what things irritate it now but these activities weren’t always painful and people around me can do them without pain … so why has ‘tennis elbow’ suddenly developed? This is a common question, rightly so if gripping is causing me pain now why has it not always and how do i get back to doing it without pain in the future? As I mentioned above it is an over use injury so it is likely to have a change in your routine / habits that led to your ‘wrist extensor tendons’ having to work EXTRA hard. For example have you changed jobs or increased time spent typing at your desk? Increased your gym routine? Started playing racket sports? Although not always obvious there is usually a change to your life or daily habits that will have sparked off this injury.
How Can I Treat It?
Physiotherapy plays a huge role here in decreasing the sensitivity and irritation of the area, allowing the soft tissues the opportunity to heal, and then strengthening the area to prevent re-injury in the future when returning to the activities. We can help in the acute stage reducing your pain initially, improve your function over time, prevent extreme interventions such as surgery and avoid re-injury in the future! Your physiotherapy may involve:
- Taping or using a brace to off load the area
- Manual therapy (massage and joint mobilisation) to release tension areas
- Ice for pain and swelling management
- Advice on how to modify activities and reduce aggravation for individual presentations
- Rehabilitation programs to restore and improve strength and function
Tennis elbow can greatly impact on your work, exercising/gym and significantly affect your life. We understand this and we are here to help get you pain free and back to your normal life as quickly as possible.