Tennis elbow is irritation in the area around the bony bump on the outer side of the elbow where the muscles of the forearm attach. This bony lump is called the lateral epicondyle, and the medical name for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis. Similar symptoms can occur on the inner side of the elbow, which may be called golfer’s elbow.
Tennis elbow is characterized by pain and tenderness in the elbow and in the back of the forearm. This is made worse by using the elbow. Symptoms vary in severity and duration, but usually include most of the following:
Excessive, repeated or sustained use of the muscles that extend the wrist can cause irritation of the tendons. Tennis elbow happens most commonly when you suddenly use your forearm muscles a lot without having used them much before, such as using power tools or a screwdriver for DIY or working in your garden. Even if you are used to this type of work, you can still overdo it. The aggravating activity may include:
The good news is most symptoms will resolve by themselves unfortunately this can sometimes take up to a year. By avoiding the activities which aggravate your symptoms and identifying any factors which may contribute to your symptoms you can help control your symptoms.
Over the counter painkillers can be taken to treat mild pain. Your GP may prescribe anti-inflammatory to ease pain and inflammation. These are often available in creams or gel form, which can be rubbed over the affected area. You should discuss the use of any medication with your GP and/or pharmacist.
In some cases, referral to a physiotherapist may be advised if symptoms are severe or persist. Physiotherapy treatment can include stretching and strengthening the forearm muscles, along with the use of supports to reduce strain on the tendon. Acupuncture can sometimes be useful.
Shockwave therapy can be used as an adjunct to progressive loading exercises for those with a history of Tennis Elbow which has been present for three months or more. Studies have shown the positive effects of using Shockwave therapy for Tennis Elbow in reducing pain and preventing recurrence of re-injury when combined with appropriate exercises.
The best way to avoid tennis elbow is to avoid putting too much stress on the tendons of the elbow. The following measures may help:
If your injury persists then please contact The Vita physiotherapy team here.