Tennis Elbow, also known as ‘lateral epicondylitis’ is the most common overuse syndrome in the elbow. It occurs as a result of overuse with an increase in sensitivity of the extensor tendons attaching to your elbow, with the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle most commonly affected. When combined with repetitive arm movements, we can experience a localised pain on the outside of the elbow.
Funnily enough, it is predicted that approximately 5% of people suffering from tennis elbow actually play tennis!
The most common group affected by tennis elbow are those aged between 35-50 years old, with added risk factors including:
- regularly handling tools heavier than 1kg
- carrying loads heavier than 20kg multiple times per day and repetitive movements for longer than 2 hours a day.
As such, electricians and other tradespeople required to do repetitive manual work are more likely to experience symptoms as a result of tennis elbow.
So what’s the best route of treatment if you’re suffering from pain on the outside of your elbow?
Research shows that gentle exercise when combined with activity modification to avoid those painful movements will give you the best improvement in function. Basically, we want to gradually build the tissue capacity of your forearm muscles as you manage your activity in the interim.
Some handy things you can try at home:
- Sitting in a chair with your elbow bent to 90 degrees and palm resting on your thigh-loop a blue theraband around the sole of your foot and using the affected hand, bend your wrist, palm facing down, to the roof and hold this position for 30 seconds. Have a 45 second rest and repeat three times daily (a little pain is okay with this one-but we want to keep it tolerable!)
Hit the link below to see these exercises and some progressions to help your elbow pain:
- Avoid certain movements which make your pain worse by using the other hand where possible. Ensuring your ergonomics at work are suitable so as not to place increased strain on the forearm and elbow can also be beneficial.
- Soft tissue massage from your therapist to help relieve the pain causing structures around your forearm can provide relief for a small window
- Anti-inflammatories may provide some short term relief
A recent study found that degenerative tendon changes at the elbow are super common, with 50% showing up on scans not experiencing any pain at all! This is a normal part of the ageing process, so if a tendinopathy does show up on a scan but you’re not experiencing any pain, there’s no cause for concern!
As a final note, cortisone injections for tennis elbow have been found to have only a very short term improvement over placebo, and no improvement in the medium to long-term. We know cortisone isn’t good for our body’s tissues – so it’s worth looking to Physiotherapy for some relief. Unfortunately patience is a requirement in the rehabilitation process from this condition. Consistency is key, but stay the course and you’ll see great improvement!
As always, if you want assistance in managing pain or feeling your physical best, click to book in Here or call the clinic on 8490 0777.