Tennis elbow – Stop being backhanded by elbow pain
Tennis elbow is the common term used for what is medically identified as lateral epicondylitis. This term simply means an inflammation around the outside of the elbow. Your forearm muscles attach to the epicondyle portion of the arm bone, and with repetitive activities over time or a traumatic event you can develop a tendonitis or irritation of the tendons at this attachment.
Unlike the name, this injury does not only occur in tennis players. The name ‘tennis elbow’ was given because a backhand swing in tennis engages the muscles and tendons that attach to the outside of the elbow. This injury is common with other activities, such as repetitive gripping or twisting of the wrist, or constant keyboarding, or mouse use. Symptoms associated with this condition are tenderness to touch over the bone, painful or weak grip, pain with wrist movements (turning a door knob), and stiffness in the morning.
With repetitive activities, the tendon begins to develop micro tears. The human body will try to heal itself by laying down scar tissue over these little tears. Since scar tissue is very fragile and we continue to use these muscles, the scar tissue ends up being stretched and finally finishes by tearing, thereby causing pain.
Tennis elbow can limit activity but usually resolves with conservative treatment, such as ice and rest from aggravating activities. A visit to your local physiotherapist is very helpful as they can guide you through the proper stretching and strengthening activities to speed up your recovery and get you back to your pre-injury activities. Some other treatment options include soft tissue mobilization (instrument assisted or without instruments), joint mobilizations, and even ultrasound. Physiotherapists can also provide education regarding ergonomics or technique modification, whether it is for work or leisure activities.