Tennis elbow is an overuse injury caused by a repetitive activity. Although common in racquet sports, it can also be seen in workplace injuries, particularly among painters, carpenters, and plumbers. According to research, typical signs and symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and burning on the outside of the elbow and weak grip strength.
Symptoms develop over time and may gradually worsen over weeks or months. Nonsurgical treatment includes:
- NSAIDS (such as Advil or Aleve)
- steroid injections
The first steps in treating tennis elbow are reducing inflammation and resting the irritated muscles and tendons. Ice and compression may also help reduce inflammation and pain. Once inflammation subsides, you can begin gentle exercises to strengthen the muscles of the forearm and prevent recurrence.
In addition, Tennis Elbow is an injury to the muscles that extend the wrist and fingers. The site of injury is typically the lateral epicondyle, a bony bump on the outside of the elbow where these muscles attach. Tennis Elbow symptoms that have lasted more than 6 weeks are considered to be sub-acute and beyond three months, as chronic tennis elbow.
The symptoms typically when the Tennis Elbow sufferer will experience pain when performing gripping tasks or resisted wrist/finger extension. Pain can also be present when the muscles are stretched. There will be tenderness directly over the bony epicondyle, and there may be trigger points in the wrist muscles.
Some sufferers will also have neck stiffness and tenderness, as well as signs of nerve irritation. Most elbow movements will be pain-free, despite that being the area of pain.
Physiotherapy has been shown to be effective in the short and long-term management of tennis elbow. Physiotherapy aims to achieve the following:
- Reduction of elbow pain.
- Facilitation of tissue repair.
- Restoration of the normal joint range of motion and function.
- Restoration of normal muscle length, strength and movement patterns.
- Normalisation of your upper limb neurodynamics.
- Normalisation of cervical joint function.
There are many ways to achieve these and, following a thorough assessment of your elbow, arm and neck, your physiotherapist will discuss the best strategy for you to use based on your symptoms and your lifestyle. Results are typically measured through patient feedback and measurement of pain-free grip strength.
Physiotherapy treatment can include gentle mobilisation of your neck and elbow joints, electrotherapy, elbow kinesio taping, muscle stretches, neural mobilisations, massage and strengthening. There is also evidence to suggest utilising a tennis elbow brace around the elbow will reduce your symptoms and help you recover quicker.
If you are struggling with elbow pain or think you have tennis elbow, we can accurately diagnose and treat your condition.