Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylitis or extensor tendinopathy)
Signs and symptoms
- Despite the name, it does not occur only in tennis players
- Can begin with a specific incident, however usually develops gradually
- Pain is felt at the outside of the elbow, sometimes travels down the forearm to the hand
- Pain aggravated by gripping and lifting activities
- Reduced grip strength due to pain
- More common in men and women aged 30-50 yrs
What is happening with the body?
Essentially it is an issue of loading – the tendons of the forearm muscles have been overused or overloaded and the resulting irritation of the tendon at its attachment near the elbow causes pain.
What can you try at home to help?
Ice and gentle massage to the forearm muscles can help reduce the pain.
How can physiotherapy help?
- Accurate diagnosis – occasionally pain in this area will actually be from a different source than the overloaded tendon eg. Pain referred from the neck, tightness of the nerves in which case the management will be different
- Activity modification, i.e. altering your activities to change the load on the tendons. Your physio will give you specific guidelines on where to begin and how to progress activity modification
- Pain relief using techniques such as dry needling or acupuncture, soft tissue massage, occasionally taping
- Exercises – current research suggests that exercises are the most important part of management. They need to be specific, graded strengthening/loading and stretching exercises and must be continued through to full healing in order to allow full and safe return to function. Your physio will teach the correct exercises and guide you on the progression.