Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is a very common condition we see in the clinic each and every week. It is characterized by pain on the outside portion of your elbow joint, where the tendons from your fingers and wrist travel and attach to.
Why is it called tennis elbow?
Due to the cocking of the wrist into extension when lining up to hit a tennis ball. This frequent motion (could be hundreds of times an hour) added with the force of the tennis ball puts a lot of stress on the tendons at the elbow joint.
You might feel the pain right on the ‘bump’ of your elbow, or within a 2cm from the joint line.
How do I have tennis elbow, I don’t play tennis?
This is a question frequently asked, because a lot of our patients have never even played tennis! The answer is because the injury is typically caused by overuse. So we actually commonly see this in professions such as tradies – eg using a hammer puts a lot of stress on these tendons. Desk workers are also frequent flyers normally due to the use of a mouse or even grabbing a lot of files or books.
Other common ways of causing overuse injury
- Trades/on tools weighing even just a kg
- Gardening – in particular hedge trimmers and shears
- Video games – holding a controller or mouse for hours on end
- Musical instruments – common in guitar players and piano players
- Drivers – Gripping the steering wheel
Signs and symptoms
- Pain is generally felt where the tendons connect to the epicondyle – or the pointy of the elbow on the outside portion.
- Can be sore to start sport/activity and then get better with exercise in the early stages of the injury, this however generally progresses to being sore all through aggravating activity the longer the problem exists
- As the injury progresses you’ll begin to notice the pain with daily activities – grabbing a mug, carrying the shopping, even putting on a jumper can aggravate the pain.
- Weak grip strength
- Usually one sided – but can be bilateral.
Because the injury does progress it is essential to get your elbow assessed and treated before the injury becomes chronic.
How long is recovery
- Because this is a tendon injury it can be temperamental in its recovery. If we can get on top of the injury in the early stages, we can have an excellent result in between 4-12 weeks.
- If the problem has been going on for months or years recovery can take closer to 6 months or even longer
- The important thing is not to get frustrated with your recovery as flare ups are normal, we will coach you through recovery patterns every step of the way
- We have many methods of treating here at Sports and Spinal Albury, including but not limited to
- Soft tissue therapies
- Stretching and mobilisation
- ESWT Shockwave Therapy
- Dry Needling
And in order to help your recovery and prevent future flare ups we will tailor a simple exercise and rehabilitation program for you