Tennis Elbow

What is Tennis Elbow

Also known as lateral epicondylitis, this is the most common injury to the elbow. It originally got its name as it is a frequent tennis injury. However, this condition is more common in people who do not play tennis at all!

The primary pathology involves the tendon of the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) muscle which attaches at the bony part of the outside of the elbow (lateral epicondyle). Repeated wrist extension causes excessive stretch and loading of the tendon, and with continued use, can result in microscopic tears causing pain and inflammation.

What Causes Tennis Elbow

The most common cause of this condition is an overuse syndrome due to repeated extension of the wrist against resistance, such as in racket sports, sewing or knitting. Computer use has also been shown to be associated with the development of this condition.

It can present after a sudden bout of exertion such as heavy lifting, or hours after unaccustomed activity such as prolonged sewing, or use of a new racket.

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How Do I Know If I Have Tennis Elbow

The Common Signs and Symptoms include:

  • Pain at the external aspect of the elbow with gripping and lifting activities
  • Pain with resisted wrist extension and executing backhand techniques in racket sports.

How can Physiotherapy help?

Your physiotherapist will tailor a management plan depending on severity and chronicity of the injury. Treatment usually involves a combination of soft tissue massage, manual therapy and ultrasound therapy to control pain, and exercises to restore flexibility and strength. You may also be advised on activity modification and on the use of a brace to reduce forces on the extensor tendons. It is imperative that you follow the management plan in order to achieve optimal results.