Tennis Elbow

tennis elbow Well done! You’ve taken the first steps to understanding and rehabilitating your Tennis Elbow! Once you read this page answer the questions on the sheet given by your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia and bring that to your next treatment session. Recovery from your Tennis Elbow is crucial in order to achieve your goals and gain rapid and long-lasting results. Your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia has requested you read this page so that you understand your condition and know how to best manage in between physiotherapy consultations.

What is Tennis Elbow?

While often regarded as a simple hinge joint, the elbow is anything but. The Elbow consists of three bones, that perform a variety of functions, such as allowing the elbow to bend, and allowing the wrist to rotate. They also protect the nerves that travel down your arm, and operate as attachments for the 16 muscles that cross the elbow joint. One of these attachment points, the Lateral Epicondyle, is the attachment site of many of the wrist and finger extensors (the muscles that pull the wrist or fingers backwards), and the site of pain for Tennis Elbow, clinically known as Lateral Epicondylalgia (often incorrectly labelled at Lateral Epicondylitis).

What caused my Tennis Elbow?

Lateral Epicondylalgia usually results from sudden increase in activity or overuse of the extensor muscles of the wrist, but may also have an insidious (progressive) onset, where it worsens over time. Other causes may include an imbalance between the the Flexors of the wrist and fingers (the muscles that pull the wrist and fingers forwards) and the extensors, causing the extensors to work harder to resist the flexors. The most common muscle involved is the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis, but other muscles may also be involved.

How can you help me with my Tennis Elbow?

tennis elbow diaphragm A detailed history, taken by your Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia Clinician, of the pain, injury or changes in activity, is important in diagnosing Lateral Epicondylalgia, while a physical assessment of the wrist, fingers, elbow, shoulder and surrounding areas will be important in diagnosing the specific structures involved, and the best course of action in treating the condition. Treatment will usually involve a gradual strengthening program, targeting the muscles involved. Trigger pointing and dry needling may also be effective in reducing the stress placed on those muscles.

What should I do to avoid aggravating my Tennis Elbow?

  • AVOID activities that aggravate your pain, until you have seen a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia Clinician.
  • AVOID generic strengthening activities such as bicep curls and wrist curls, until you have seen a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia Clinician, as they may contribute to muscle imbalances, rather than helping them.
  • REMAIN ACTIVE, while avoiding aggravating activities, activities that involve repeated wrist movements.
  • For RELIEF, applying ice to the area may help to reduce some pain and inflammation. Be sure to wrap the icepack in a towel, and only apply for 10 minutes every 2 hours. CEASE use if you have any negative reaction.
  • RECEIVE physiotherapy care to get your joints, ligaments and muscles de-loaded and moving freely with no restrictions.
Keep good care of your body and your physiotherapist will continue to monitor your condition. Once your Tennis Elbow has resolved you will be able to resume your full activities without worrying about future flare-ups.
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