Tennis elbow is a term used to describe pain at the elbow which is brought on by repetitive movements at the hand, elbow, forearm and wrist. It is believed that the pain developed in the arm is due to tendonitis of the tendon of common extensor tendon in the elbow joint. Another term used for the condition is lateral epicondylitis, or more recently, lateral elbow tendonopathy, however tennis elbow is more commonly used.
At Total Physiotherapy we treat a number of patients who suffer from tennis elbow, however, it is very rare that the cause is actually from playing tennis (Only 5%!). It may be that an individual has just started gardening after a long winter and through repetitive digging or clipping they have increased elbow pain. Another example may be that the individual has developed elbow pain after starting DIY with repetitive screwing and hammering. Further activities that may predispose an individual to tennis elbow are computer use, knitting, sewing and carpentry.
The condition may affect anyone at any age, however it is most common between the ages of 40 and 50 years old. Generally, any activity that involves repetitive gripping or twisting at the forearm could cause tennis elbow to develop. This is because of the specific tendon that is affected (extensor carpi radialis brevis tendon). Gripping is particularly affected in people suffering with tennis elbow, as well as the gripping mechanism. The physiotherapist at Total Physiotherapy will complete a number of clinical tests to diagnose tendonopathy.
How can Physiotherapy help with tennis elbow?
Physiotherapy has proven to be beneficial for people who suffer from tennis elbow, reducing the time spent with pain, as well as reducing further onset. A combination of treatment methods has proven most beneficial when treating an individual with tennis elbow as no single treatment method has proven to be totally effective when used alone.
When initially treating tennis elbow it is important to control the pain through use of ice, medication, rest and electrotherapy. It is also important to encourage the natural healing process, ensure optimal flexibility and gradually increase strength and stability to the area.
At Total Physiotherapy we pride ourselves with ‘hands on’ treatment which is extremely effective when treating tennis elbow. A combination of soft tissue massage , joint mobilisations, deep transverse friction massage, ultrasound, acupuncture and exercise prescription can be used to treat tennis elbow. Extensive research has been published into the most effective treatment methods for tennis elbow. There is a large amount of evidence to support the use of eccentric loading exercises for tennis elbow and they are commonly used to help strengthen the tendon and reduce pain. However more recent research is showing that as well as eccentric exercises, concentric exercises should be used in order to restore the muscle and tendon to its fully functioning state. The treatment methods used will be dependent upon the stage of the condition, however following a thorough assessment the physiotherapist will be able to determine the most appropriate treatment methods to be used. It may also be beneficial to use braces or taping to off load the area and provide support, allowing the tissue to heal whilst completing certain activities. At Total Physiotherapy we can provide the supports which strap over the painful area. These can be issued by the physiotherapist to ensure a correct fit and making sure the patient is confident with fitting the strap themselves.
If you would like to discuss your problem before booking an appointment please give our physiotherapy team a call, we will do our best to help.
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