Tennis Elbow (or lateral epicondylalgia/ lateral epicondlitis) is a common source of elbow pain.
The muscle of the forearm that extend the wrist converge into a tendon that attaches on the outside of the the elbow (called the lateral epicondyle of the humerus).
Tennis elbow occurs when the common extensor tendon becomes inflamed and sore. This is essentially a tendinitis or tenidonpathy of the elbow.
Tennis elbow can be caused by:
Gradual overload due to repetitive movements. This is where tennis elbow gets its name as the one hand backhand places repetitive loads directly onto the common extensor tendon.
Sudden overload from lifting too much weight in short period of time
A period of prolonged immobilisation of the elbow, wrist and/or shoulder such as after an injury or coming out of cast. The tendon has been shielded from stress and is unable to cope with returning to normal use.
The common theme here is overloading of the tendon. This is why the most important part of management is optimising load.
Sometimes Tennis Elbow can be associated with Radial nerve irritation which can lead to higher levels of pain, radiating pain up into the shoulder or down into the hands and pins and needles/ numbness.
How can Physiotherapy help?
A thorough assessment to establish a firm diagnosis and contributing factors.
Advice on optimising load through the tendon. This may mean relative rest (reducing strain through the forearms) and ways to work around your injury such as altering lifting techniques/ improving wrist posture.
Soft tissue massage, manual therapy and dry needling to help with stiffness and pain relief.
MOST IMPORTANTLY Home based exercises designed to provide progressive loading of the tendon. Tendons will only heal if they are loaded correctly and gradually strengthened to be able to cope with high forces. This will allow for reallignment of collagen fibres so they are more organised.
If you are suffering with tennis elbow or suspect you may have tennis elbow, please dont hesistate to call or message on WhatsApp for more info.