Tennis Elbow Explained – Lindsay Young
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis/ Lateral elbow tendinopathy is a pathology involving the tendons in the forearm that attach to a bony prominence known as the lateral epicondyle. People suffering this condition will report pain and tenderness over the outside of the elbow, stiffness and or weakness with tasks involving the arms and elbow. Recent research has demonstrated that there is NO inflammatory process associated with Tennis elbow. Rather there is an associated increase in nerve transmission chemicals, blood supply and derangement/degeneration of the cells that make up the tendon called tenocytes.
What causes tennis elbow?
Tendon based problems are caused when normal load is put though an abnormal tendon or abnormal load is put though a normal tendon. Typically tennis elbow will present following trauma to the area such as a knock to the lateral epicondyle or overuse such as repetitive gripping or lifting tasks involving the upper body.
How is tennis elbow treated?
Managing the load going through the tendon is often the hardest but the most important factor in recovering from tennis elbow. This can be done through postural correcting, bracing and taping, massage, strengthening, dry needling and dry needling, joint mobilisation at the neck and elbow, activity modification and nerve and muscle stretches. Most clients will notice a significant reduction in pain within 6 weeks of starting their rehab program but it is common for this condition to take 3-6 months to fully resolve.
Why would my physio treat my neck and upper back if I have tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is often associated with nerve sensitivity. This means that nerves in your neck (usually C5, C6 or the radial nerve) can become irritated and refer pain down to your elbow. The degree of neural referral varies greatly between cases and your physio can perform testing to determine your level of irritability.
Lindsay Young (APAM)
B. of Physiotherapy