Tennis elbow | My Health Team

Tennis elbow

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylalgia)

What is it?
Tennis elbow is a colloquial term for pain on the outside of the elbow that may radiate into the forearm. It is a condition that effects the muscles that extend the wrist and fingers, therefore both wrist and elbow movements can be aggravating. It is caused by damage to the muscle tissue where it attaches to the side of the elbow, usually as a result of an inability to cope with load, either in a single incident or repetitively over time. As such, it usually affects the dominant limb. It is commonly seen in people between the ages of 30-60 years of age and is more common in males than females.
Signs and symptoms
• Painful grip
• Pain with resisted finger and wrist extension
• Tenderness over the bony prominence of the outside of the elbow that may radiate into the forearm
• Recent changes in work or training practices or equipment
Physical examination
The physical examination will assess the location of pain, muscle length and strength.
How is it managed?
Lateral epicondylalgia is best treated using a combination of approaches. As it is mechanical in nature, activity modification is usually the first step. This may involve correction of poor movement patterns or work practices and relative rest.
Pain control is also important, so discussing analgesics with your GP or pharmacist and cryotherapy is helpful. We have found that dry needling techniques are very effective in reducing symptoms.

 

Finally, strength and flexibility deficits need to be addressed. An exercise physiologist or physiotherapist can guide you with an appropriate exercise program that monitors load and volume.

 

Nicolas Mascali

Physiotherapist

References
Brukner, P. Khan, K (2012). Clinical Sports Medicine (4th ed.). North Ryde, NSW. McGraw Hill.
Flatt, A, E. (2008). Tennis Elbow. Proceedings (Baylor University Medical Centre). 21(4): 400–402. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2566914/

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