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Tennis Elbow: From Pain to Performance – A Comprehensive Guide to Physiotherapy

What is Tennis Elbow ?

Tennis elbow, also known as ‘lateral epicondylitis’, is a common condition that affects individuals regardless of whether they play tennis or not. It typically results from overuse and strain of the forearm muscles and tendons, causing pain and discomfort. In this blog, we will explore the common signs of tennis elbow, discuss various physiotherapy treatments, and provide helpful tips to manage and prevent this condition.

Common Signs of Tennis Elbow to look out for:

Tennis elbow can be debilitating, but it is essential to recognise the signs and symptoms early to start the appropriate treatment. Here are the most common signs:

  1. Pain: One of the hallmark symptoms is pain on the outer side of the elbow, particularly around the bony prominence called the lateral epicondyle.
  2. Weak Grip: Individuals with tennis elbow often experience a weakened grip strength, making it challenging to perform everyday tasks, like holding a coffee cup or lifting objects.
  3. Stiffness: You may notice stiffness in the affected arm, especially after periods of rest or in the morning.
  4. Tenderness: The lateral epicondyle may become tender to the touch.
  5. Worsening Pain with Activities: Pain intensifies when performing gripping or wrist-extension activities, such as shaking hands or turning a doorknob.

What can Physiotherapy help you with?

Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in the management and rehabilitation of tennis elbow. Here are some common physiotherapy treatments:

  1. Manual Therapy: Physiotherapists often use ‘hands-on techniques’ to mobilise the affected joint and soft tissues. This helps reduce pain, improve range of motion, and promote healing.
  2. Exercise Prescription: A tailored exercise program is designed to strengthen the forearm muscles and improve flexibility. Eccentric exercises, which focus on lengthening the muscle under tension, are particularly effective.
  3. Modalities: Ultrasound or other shockwave therapy can promote tissue healing and reduce pain and inflammation. Please discuss this with your clinician if this is an option for you.
  4. Bracing/ taping: Wearing a counterforce brace around the forearm just below the elbow can help alleviate pain and protect the injured area during activities. Please discuss taping techniques with your treating clinician.
  5. Ergonomic Assessment: Your physiotherapist can assess your workplace or sports equipment and suggest modifications to reduce strain on your elbow.
  6. Activity Modification: Temporary avoidance of activities that worsen symptoms is often recommended. Your physiotherapist can help you identify and modify these activities to facilitate healing.

Let us discuss the helpful tips for Managing and Preventing Tennis Elbow:

In addition to physiotherapy, there are several strategies that can help you manage tennis elbow and reduce the risk of recurrence:

  1. Rest: Allow your affected arm time to rest and recover. Avoid activities that exacerbate the pain.
  2. Ice: Applying ice to the painful area for 15-20 minutes at a time can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain
  3. Proper Technique: Whether you’re playing tennis, lifting weights, or doing household chores, always use proper technique to reduce strain on your elbow.
    1. ** We can perform biomechanic assessments to review your technique and locate the structures at fault.
  4. Warm-Up and Stretching: Warm up before physical activities and perform specific stretches to keep your forearm muscles flexible.
  5. Strengthening Exercises: Continue with the prescribed exercises to maintain forearm strength even after your symptoms have improved.
  6. Regular Physiotherapy Check-Ins: Periodic visits to your physiotherapist can help monitor your progress and make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
  7. Use of Equipment: If you play a sport that involves repetitive gripping motions, ensure that you are using the correct equipment and that it is properly fitted.

Don’t worry ! We are here to help.

Tennis elbow can be a challenging condition, but with the optimal physiotherapy treatments and lifestyle modifications, you can manage the pain and return to your regular activities. By recognising the common signs, seeking proper physiotherapy care, and following helpful tips, you can work your way from pain to improved performance and enjoy a pain-free life. If you suspect you have tennis elbow, consult one of our experienced physiotherapists for a personalised treatment plan. We’d be more than happy to get you started on your recovery !


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March 14, 2024
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