What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is an injury that affects the tendons that attach to the outside of your elbow. This condition is not just limited to tennis players and is quite common in occupations that involve repetitive movements of the wrists. Occupations include most construction workers or desk workers as these require repetitive movements while using tools or typing on keyboards etc. Generally, most people who get tennis elbow will never have played tennis at all!
So what exactly is it and what area does it affect in our body?
Tennis elbow affects 4 muscles in your forearm that join together at the elbow and form what is known as the common extensor tendon and is responsible for extension movements at your wrist. These 4 muscles are:
Extensor carpi radialis brevis
Extensor digiti minimi
Extensor carpi ulnaris
Generally, this injury occurs from activities that involve overuse of the tendons and muscles of the forearm. These activities usually involve repeated use of the wrist or clenching of the fingers. You can also get tennis elbow suddenly if your arm is twisted in a way that can cause injury to your tendons, but this is not as common.
Pain/tenderness on the outside part of your elbow joint
Pain when lifting a heavy object
Gripping objects or opening/turning door handles.
Pain referring from the elbow down into the forearm or up into the upper arm/shoulder.
Firstly, you will need to be assessed by your physiotherapist to determine how severe your injury is. With less severe inflammation/irritation of your tendons, generally a short period of active rest with specific exercises and manual therapy involving massage or dry needling should help to reduce symptoms. For presentations with more severe symptoms, a longer period of rest and potentially activity or work modification may need to take place to reduce the inflammation in the tendons. As symptoms settle for both presentations, gradual strengthening exercises will be introduced and progressed as appropriate.
How long will symptoms last?
Tennis elbow can be a tricky condition to predict how long symptoms can last for. For most people, performing their regular day to day activities at work can aggravate symptoms and it can be hard to achieve a period of active rest to reduce inflammation. Generally symptoms can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 2+ months. It is important though if you have any symptoms that you get properly assessed to determine how best to approach your rehab.
Stay tuned to our socials on Instagram for 2 posts with videos on treatment you can do to help reduce your symptoms.