My elbow hurts! Could it be tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is also known as lateral epicondylitis which is a common condition that causes pain and discomfort on the outer part of the elbow.
Despite its name, tennis elbow can affect anyone, not just tennis players!
What causes pain on the outside of the elbow?
Repetitive motions of the wrist and arm such as gripping, lifting, or typing for example can lead to this condition. Simple things such as washing windows, excessive cleaning, pulling weeds, using a screwdriver, or tasks that are done for long periods can also lead to the problem. Anything that is repetitive or causes overload to the tendon of the elbow can cause tennis elbow.
Can Physiotherapy help?
While tennis elbow can be a frustrating and limiting ailment, the good news is that physiotherapy can offer several treatment options. At Power Physiotherapy, our experienced Physiotherapists will provide a thorough assessment, diagnosis, and treatment suitable specifically for you.
Let’s explore the condition further.
In the forearm, the muscles on the outside are called the extensor muscles. The muscles all join in one bony spot called the lateral epicondyle, on the outside part of the elbow. For the muscles to join on the lateral epicondyle, they must become a tendon. It is this tendon that suffers from overuse or overload causing the tendon to become irritated. At the beginning of the condition, there may be some inflammation or even micro tears, but later this tendon is simply irritated.
What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?
These can vary from mild to very severe symptoms. The most common symptom is pain on the outside part of the elbow but sometimes it can extend down into the extensor muscles as described above.
Simple things such as writing, holding a cup, lifting the kettle, twisting a jar lid or door handle, or combing your hair may become painful and difficult.
For some people, there may be visible swelling, redness, or heat in the area when the condition is severe. For others, it may be very tender to touch, and even just moving the wrist backward becomes painful.
Who is at risk of getting tennis elbow?
- Adults between the ages of 30 and 50 (male and female equally).
- People who have jobs with repetitive movements.
- People who participate in racket sports, especially with poor technique.
What can we do at Power Physiotherapy to help you?
Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in the management of tennis elbow by focusing on reducing pain, promoting healing, and restoring function. The key is to come for treatment as soon as possible. Delaying treatment will often mean a prolonged recovery.
The Physiotherapists at Power Physiotherapy use several different treatment methods to aid recovery, reduce pain, reduce stress on the tendon, and promote healing. These include:
- Pain Management techniques: These include laser therapy, ultrasound, shockwave, soft tissue massage, joint mobilization, dry needling, and taping. Each method is applied at the appropriate timeframe.
- Exercise prescription: Specific exercises and stretches are prescribed by our Physiotherapists to strengthen the muscles around the elbow joint and improve movement and flexibility. These exercises are gradually progressed under the guidance of our Physiotherapists.
- Ergonomic and biomechanical assessment: This means that our Physiotherapists help identify any factors that are contributing to the development or aggravation of tennis elbow and look for ways to prevent reoccurrence. They may suggest modifications of equipment, changes of technique, modification of tasks, and alternative duties during the recovery phase.
- Taping and bracing: In some cases, taping or bracing may be recommended to provide support and stability to the affected area as well as pain relief.
- Education and prevention: Understanding the condition is very important. Our Physiotherapists will explain the condition, help you understand the basic anatomy, and provide you with the skills to assist the current condition and prevent future occurrences.
Why try Physiotherapy first?
At Power Physiotherapy we always aim to avoid surgery if possible. Our treatment methods are non-invasive and safe. We aim to address the root cause of the problem, providing long-term relief rather than merely managing symptoms. Furthermore, we help you learn methods to be in control of your condition.
We help you look after yourself too.
Taking control of your condition is vital for a more rapid recovery. We will advise you on the following self-care points:
- Use of heat or ice as appropriate.
- The indication for the use of painkillers, anti-inflammatories tablets, or creams.
- How to monitor your symptoms and avoid aggravating activities.
- How to maintain mobility of other parts of your body such as your neck, shoulder, wrist, fingers, and upper back.
One very important point is: ‘DON’T POKE THE SORE SPOT!’ This will only lead to further irritation of the area.
What should you do next?
Do not delay in seeking treatment if you are suffering from pain from the condition ‘tennis elbow’. The longer you leave it, the longer the recovery will take.
At Power Physiotherapy all our physiotherapists are highly trained in the treatment of this condition and can help you get started on the road to recovery today.
We tailor your treatment specifically to your needs, lifestyle, and goals. We can help you identify the activity that may have caused the injury and give you the skills to help yourself too. Our goal is to get you back to doing all the things you love or return to work and sport without re-injury.