What is Tennis Elbow?

The elbow is made up of 3 bones; the humerus (upper arm), the radius and the ulna (your forearm bones). While the primary action of this joint is the flex and extend the elbow, it also has an important role in rotating the forearm and moving the wrist. A lot of the muscles that extend (straighten) the wrist attach into the same point on the outside of the elbow, this point is called the Common Extensor Origin. When these extensor muscles are overused or misused, then the Common Extensor Origin can become irritated and cause pain. This is commonly called Tennis Elbow but is clinically known as lateral epicondylalgia.

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 muscle imbalance between 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?

Your physiotherapist will conduct a thorough and detailed assessment of your elbow and the surrounding joints and structures, in order to fully understand your tennis elbow pain and how it is affecting you and your life. This assessment will help your physiotherapist to create a personalised treatment plan for you. Typically, this will involve manual therapy techniques designed to settle the pain at your elbow and to get it moving to its normal level. Trigger pointing sore muscles and dry needling may also be helpful in your treatment. Your treatment plan will also involve exercises to stretch and strengthen your elbow and arm in order to return you to your optimum level and prevent any future recurrences of your elbow pain.

What should I do to avoid aggravating my Tennis Elbow?

  • AVOID activities that aggravate your pain, until guided by your physiotherapist
  • For RELIEF, applying ice to the area may help to reduce some pain and inflammation.
  • Talk to your pharmacist about the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication
  • RECEIVE physiotherapy care to get your joints, ligaments and muscles performing to their optimum level

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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