Struggling with Tennis elbow pain? Frustrating isn’t it, the dull painful ache that just won’t subside regardless of how much you warm up. Well, good news is it really isn’t forever with the correct protocols of treatment.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow, known to the pro’s as ‘lateral epicondylalgia’, is a common condition that affects the elbow joint. It is caused by repetitive overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons in sport, or in the workplace, that leads to pain and inflammation on the outer part of the elbow. We see this commonly in those playing racquet sports such as tennis, but often rock climbers, golfers and weightlifters can also struggle with it.
Put simply, there is one common attachment site on the outside of the elbow, for the group of muscles that run down the forearm. When the muscles are overused to create wrist extension, tension builds at the common extensor origin leading to irritation of the tendon. Tennis elbow can be a debilitating condition that can significantly impact a person’s ability to carry out everyday activities, particularly those that involve gripping and lifting. Two things we love doing at Choccie Box…
Getting physiotherapy is a popular and effective treatment option for tennis elbow, as it can help to reduce pain, improve range of motion, and restore gripping strength. Getting you back on the field, court or gym far quicker!
Causes of Tennis Elbow:
Tennis elbow is caused by repetitive overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons in sport. This condition is particularly common in athletes, however, it can also affect people who do trade work or have hobbies that require repetitive arm movements, such as carpentry, painting, and knitting.
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
The main symptom of tennis elbow is pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow. The pain may also radiate down the forearm and wrist. The pain is often exacerbated by gripping or lifting objects, twisting the forearm, or extending the wrist. In severe cases, there may be weakness in the affected arm, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks.
How will a Physio treat Tennis Elbow?
Manual therapy involves hands-on methods that are used to manipulate the soft tissues around the affected area. Your Physio will very likely use this method for your tennis elbow treatment. This may include different massage techniques, manual or assisted stretching, and joint mobilisation. Manual therapy can help to improve blood flow to the affected area, reduce inflammation around the common extensor tendon and alleviate tension in the structures surrounding the attachment site.
Exercise therapy or physiology is a crucial part of physiotherapy treatment for tennis elbow. We work with you to develop a customised exercise program that is designed to strengthen the forearm muscles, and increase the threshold of load the common extensor tendon is able to withstand. Your program will be personally tailored to you dependent on the specific activities you are aiming to return to. Typically it will include mobilisation drills to deload the area, and resistance training to re-strengthen the forearm specifically, as well as the upper arm, shoulder and back. We will ensure you have the right equipment for each component to complete the set rehab exercises properly from home, and often use the fully equipped training facility at Chocolate Box Training in our sessions for specific resistance based movements.
On top of physiotherapy treatments, we often recommend lifestyle and everyday modifications to help manage tennis elbow. Significant improvement can be made with assessing the ergonomics of your workplace or sports equipment, using a brace or splint to support the affected area, and modifying the aggravating activities short term, until function is restored.
Cold therapy involves the application of ice or a cold compress to the affected area if it’s a recent injury, or using prescribed ice bath methods. This can be a complimentary treatment to help deal with pain symptoms, reduce inflammation and edema, and promote more timely healing in the elbow joint.
What’s the expected recovery time for Tennis Elbow?
Left untreated, or poorly managed tennis elbow can linger for up to 6 months. When addressed early with the right physiotherapy treatment and activity modifications, prognosis can be between 2 and 4 weeks. That’s heaps better if you want to get back on court asap!
Why come in for a consultation?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of complete rest of the affected side, painkillers and the ‘wait and see approach’ for tennis elbow. Long term, this won’t help the situation. We often see this lead to weakness of the muscles, and associated injuries in other joints from compensation or lack of activity because you’re injured. Being proactive and getting treatment before it’s too bad is super wise! Contact our friendly and experienced Motus HP team today for a consultation to assess and treat your tennis elbow for good!