Tennis elbow: causes and treatment


With the action at Wimbledon starting today, we thought it was the perfect time to take a closer look at Lateral Epicondylitis. Although it’s commonly known as tennis elbow, it’s an injury that can affect players and non-players alike.

Tennis elbow is an overuse injury that affects tennis players and non-tennis players alike! Generally suffers are over 40 years of age and men and women are equally affected. If you don’t play tennis onset can usually be related to some sort of physical activity even if it is just using a mouse or keyboard.

Symptoms and causes
The pain is felt over the outside of the elbow and can spread down the forearm towards the wrist. Inflammation or small tears within the tendon that attach the outer forearm muscles to the elbow are responsible for the pain.

These muscles extend the wrist, something we do naturally when gripping anything tightly for example when opening a jam jar, using a screwdriver or holding a tennis racquet. When using a keyboard or mouse these muscles are used at a lower intensity but over a longer period of time.

If you play tennis there are certain factors that can contribute to tennis elbow such as string tension, grip size and racquet head size. Poor technique can also be a factor as can reduced strength or flexibility. Some players switch to a double handed backhand.

What can physiotherapy do to help?
Physiotherapy treatment for tennis elbow would follow a thorough assessment and examination to confirm the diagnosis and understand what factors may be contributing to the condition.

Treatment may include:

  • Friction massage
  • Ultrasound to the tendon
  • Acupuncture
  • Stretching exercises
  • Specific strengthening exercises
  • Activity modification
  • Ergonomic advice

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