What is Tennis Elbow?
Lateral epicondylitis, or more commonly known as “Tennis Elbow” is a common overuse injury. It usually presents as pain on the outside of the elbow that is made worse with gripping, twisting, bending and extending the wrist. Despite its name, tennis elbow commonly affects many desk/computer workers or manual labourers and is not specific to tennis players. Tennis elbow affects between 1-3% of the regular population. In jobs involving repetitive motion of the wrist and hand, tennis elbow affects approximately 15% of the population1.
What Causes Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is an overuse injury, meaning it is brought on by repetitive movement of the wrist and fingers. It can also be as a result of improper set of up a workstation or poor biomechanics while performing a task. The most common area of injury is where the tendon inserts onto the bone on the outside of the elbow. The repeated contraction of the muscle causes pulling at the site where it inserts, which creates an inflammatory response or a “tendonitis”. The overuse of these muscles causes them to become tight and shortened, which affects the amount of pull onto the bone where it inserts. This can also lead to microtears in the tendon.
Who is at risk of developing Tennis Elbow?
Workers who perform repetitive tasks are at a significantly higher risk for developing tennis elbow.
Weakness in the rotator cuff muscles or decreased range of motion of the shoulder can also contribute to development of tennis elbow. Also some neck conditions can predispose an individual to developing tennis elbow.
What can physiotherapy do for Tennis Elbow?
Your physiotherapist will complete a thorough assessment to determine the contributing factors to your development of tennis elbow. Physiotherapy interventions include but are not limited to:
Advice on use of a tennis elbow brace
Manual therapy/Joint and/or neural mobilizations
Intramuscular Stimulation (Gunn IMS)
Therapeutic Modalities including ultrasound and interferential current
Call us today to find out what we can do to help!
(Josh Chung, UWO PT Student)
Bisset L., et al. 2006. Mobilisation with movement and exercise, corticosteroid injection, or wait and see for tennis elbow: randomised trial. BMJ. 1-6.
Stasinopoulos D., et al. 2010.Comparison of effects of a home exercise programme and a supervised exercise programme for the management of lateral elbow tendinopathy. Br J Sports Med. 44(8):579-83.
Bjordal, JM., et al. 2008.A systematic review with procedural assessments and meta-analysis of low level laser therapy in lateral elbow tendinopathy (tennis elbow). BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 29;9:75.