So, let’s get the obvious query out of the way first: do you have to be playing tennis in order to get tennis elbow? In short, no, though you can suffer from it if you play tennis, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. There are many other causes of tennis elbow, including decorating, playing an instrument or similar repetitive arm movements, like playing fetch with a dog. Essentially, tennis elbow is extremely common.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis Elbow, known also as Lateral Epicondylitis, is a condition that causes inflammation of the tendons in the elbow, typically brought on by overusing the muscles and tendons in the forearm.
The reason for this is because the elbow joint is surrounded by muscles that allow you to move your elbow, wrist, and fingers; the tendons that are in your elbow join the bones and muscles together and therefore control the muscles in your forearm.
To suffer from tennis elbow means that you’ve likely overused the attached muscles and when these muscles and tendons are strained, tiny tears can develop near the bony lump on the outside of your elbow, causing inflammation.
The ‘bony lump’ being the ‘lateral epicondyle’, which is a small, tuberculated distinction attaching to the ligament of the elbow joint. But, we bet that most of you at this point are feeling your bony lump to know what we mean!
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
If you suffer from tennis elbow, you’ll notice pain or discomfort when using this area of your arm, be that gripping objects – as little as a pen or as large as lifting something – simply bending your arm, or twisting the joint, such as opening a door.
The pain will usually be just below the bend of your elbow, making it difficult to not only bend your arm but to extend, too.
Other symptoms of tennis elbow include:
- Tenderness on the outside of your elbow
- A weak grip
- A stiff or swollen elbow
- The onset of sudden pain in your elbow
How to Treat Tennis Elbow
First things first, if you notice that you are suffering from this type of pain and are regularly partaking in a repetitive activity, you should really avoid this until your symptoms subside.
If the inflammation is persistent and particularly uncomfortable, you can use hot and cold compresses to help with swelling and to ease the pain, but it’s best to avoid using this method for more than 30 minutes a day.
If the pain persists, despite resting and use ice and heat, pay a visit to your doctor or physical therapist. Your GP will likely check for swelling and tenderness around the joint and can, in severe cases, refer you for more tests, ultrasound scans or an MRI scan – though, as we say, this is in extreme cases as they’re looking for nerve damage.
Physiotherapy and sports therapy can also help to alleviate pain; massaging and manipulating the area can help to relieve the pain and stiffness, as well as giving a range of movement to the joint. Your therapist will talk you through exercise you can do to strengthen the area, which can speed up recovery time.
Physical Therapy and Tennis Elbow
If you suffer from Lateral Epicondylitis and want help to regain full health, get in touch with our friendly and expert team. We can help put together a programme to help you recover and strengthen the relevant muscles and tendons around the elbow.
If you follow our programmes and receive regular treatment, you will see improvements in the mobility of your elbow and a reduction in pain.
Book your assessment and treatment today to sort your Tennis Elbow once and for all.