What is tennis elbow and how can I treat it?


What is tennis elbow and how can I treat it?

Enjoying everything that comes with the wonderful life of living in Sydney’s lower north shore is certainly high on our to-do list. Being outside in the sunshine playing some tennis or even doing some gardening (for those lucky enough to have a yard) is the perfect way to get the sweat flowing, especially during the colder months.

But for some of us, the pleasure can turn to continual pain when we’re just reaching a bit too far for the shot or getting a little too excited pulling a pesky weed out from the garden. You start feeling around the elbow joint, knowing that something isn’t quite right. This is often how the story goes with cases of Tennis elbow, although it can certainly be caused by less rigorous activities than playing sport and gardening.

Tennis elbow (known in fancy terms as Lateral epicondylitis) is an inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. There are bony bumps at the bottom of your upper arm bone (humerus) called epicondyles and the bony bump of interest on the outside (lateral side) of the elbow is called the lateral epicondyle . This is where the problems begin.

Tennis elbow often occurs when a specific muscle in the forearm — the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) muscle — is damaged. The ECRB helps raise (extend) the wrist . Repetitive stress weakens the ECRB muscle, causing extremely tiny tears in the muscle’s tendon at the point where it attaches to the outside of the elbow (the bony bumps). These tears lead to the inflammation and pain experienced with tennis elbow.

The causes of tennis elbow can be greatly varied from person to person, with a multitude of unique circumstances within each of our lifestyles playing a large factor. Most people tend to associate tennis elbow with (unsurprisingly) tennis and other sports that may include forms of jolting and extension in the elbow such as squash, fencing and weightlifting. However even average Joe can be susceptible as it commonly affects people who engage in seemingly mundane everyday activities that involve repetitive arm movements and gipping such as:

• Typing
• Drawing
• Painting
• Woodwork
• Knitting
• Digging

It’s amazing to think how interconnected our bodies actually are, and sometimes this causes pain to reference in places that aren’t actually the source of the problem. This is very common with tennis elbow, as it is likely to cause pain when doing things with your hands and wrists. The pain can also radiate throughout the upper and lower arm, often creating the sense of a pulled muscle. Tennis elbow is likely to cause you the most pain when you do things such as :

• Opening a door
• Gripping an object
• Shaking hands
• Lifting items
• Cutting and chopping

Quite obviously there are a large number of activities that can create stress on the muscle tendons in your elbow. There is simply too many too list, however (fortunately) tennis elbow can be reasonably simple to treat with the right guidance from a physiotherapist.

In the short-term management of tennis elbow, physiotherapy has been shown to benefit patients with ongoing symptoms of tennis elbow. Expert physiotherapy from our wonderful team at Lane Cove Physio can help you to manage pain and improve your strength and flexibility by providing a variety of individually tailored treatments. This will help you understand your problem and get you back to enjoying life in Lane Cove. If you feel like you’re experiencing the symptoms of tennis elbow, give our friendly team a call and book an appointment today.