It may surprise you to know that you can get tennis elbow without going anywhere near a racquet! The condition is caused by overusing the muscles attached to your elbow that are used to straighten your wrist. Any activity that puts repeated stress on the elbow joint can cause what is known as tennis elbow.
The condition is technically known as lateral epicondylitis. Pain and stiffness are usually felt around the bony prominence on the outermost side of the elbow, known as the lateral condyle – this is where the major forearm muscle tendons connect to the elbow. The pain is caused by repetitive overuse activities which overload the tendon and cause chronic stress at the site where the tendons connect.
Did you know? 95% of cases of tennis elbow are not due to playing tennis
Office and manual workers can be vulnerable to repetitive overuse injuries. And tennis elbow can also be caused by a single forceful event, but it usually develops after long-term repetitive strain.
Activities that can lead to tennis elbow include:
- sports that involve repetitive gripping activities
- repetitive exposure to vibration, such as cycling or throwing a ball
- repetitive or strenuous use of the forearm muscles.
The main muscle involved in the development of tennis elbow is the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB). When your arm and elbow are straight, the ECRB stabilises your wrist.
When the ECRB is overused, microscopic tears can form causing pain and stiffness. The collagen fibres making up the tendon become disorganised with changes in local circulation. These changes are now thought to be associated with a degenerative rather than inflammatory process.
Meet the experts who can help you with fast access to pain relief
If you are struggling with pain and/ or stiffness in your elbow, or think you have tennis elbow, a consultation with one of our experts may be beneficial.
Our expert physiotherapists can use a variety of physical tests to diagnose and confirm the pain and stiffness you are experiencing is due to tennis elbow and is nothing more serious.
If further investigations are required your physiotherapist may refer you for imaging or to a specialist upper limb consultant to rule out potential complications such as arthritis and nerve involvement.
Our expertly trained physiotherapists will work with you to create a tailor-made, goal-orientated management plan.
Treatment options for tennis elbow include:
- Activity changes to avoid actions that are aggravating your condition
- Pain relief techniques
- Supervised exercises to strengthen and stretch the affected tissue
- Manual techniques to reduce pain
- Taping or use of a brace or splint to relieve painful tissues
- Sport and occupational-specific rehabilitationShockwave therapy click here for more information
- Upper limb specialist therapy
For more information on how our dedicated team of physiotherapists can support you with conditions ranging from arthritis, back and neck pain, headaches, and over 25 other conditions including cancer, click here.