Do you or someone you know have pain along the outside of the elbow? If so, it may be due to a condition such as “Tennis Elbow”. You may be wondering, “Well the elbow pain isn’t from playing tennis.” You are not alone, as over 95% of those who develop tennis elbow do not get it from playing tennis.
What’s Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is a painful condition affecting the outer aspect of the elbow. In the early stage it may be from inflammation of the elbow joint, muscles, and/or tendons. In the later stages it can be due to faulty mechanics of the elbow joint, tightness and/or sensitivity of the tendons and muscles around the elbow.
Where is Tennis Elbow pain located?
The pain is felt along the outer aspect of the elbow, and can spread down or up the arm. Golfer’s and Pitcher’s elbow are terms used for pain along the inside of the elbow.
What’s Tennis Elbow caused by?
Repetitive wrist extension (bending the wrist back) and/or gripping, especially with the elbow straight are the most common causes. Tennis elbow can also be caused by a direct blow to the outer aspect of the elbow.
Who it affected by Tennis Elbow?
As indicated above, surprisingly only up to 5% of those who have tennis elbow get it from playing tennis. Rather, it typically affects anyone who performs repetitive work, such as those who use hand tools and those who do frequent keyboarding. Most commonly it affects those between 30-50 years of age.
How do we treat Tennis Elbow?
The best treatment is prevention:
- Ensuring that repetitive activity with the hands are done with a neutral wrist posture. That is of slight wrist extension. Also avoid repetitive wrist extension and/or gripping, especially with the elbow straight.
- Avoid lifting or gripping objects with the palm of your hand facing down.
- Perform regular exercise. Also, remember to do some warm up exercises prior to strenuous or repetitive activity and frequently break up repetitive wrist activity to stretch.
- Ensure that tools and handles are not too small or large in diameter.
- Avoid working in awkward and prolonged postures.
What should I do if I am having symptoms similar to those listed above?
- Ensure that the above prevention strategies are being implemented.
- In the early stages apply ice to the elbow for 10 minutes at a time, several times a day.
- Consider buying a tennis elbow strap. Try it on in the store and if it is fitted properly, the pain associated with making a fist or extending the wrist should be less. If there is no benefit, try adjusting the position and tightness of the strap. You may also need to try a different strap as one size does not fit all. If there continues to be no relief, do not bother buying it (refer to video).
If the symptoms persist or you simply need some further clarification, feel free to contact one of our physiotherapists at North 49 Physical Therapy (T) 306-343-7776. Options such as activity modification, soft tissue mobilization, joint manipulation, ultrasound, acupuncture, medication and injections may have to be considered. One also has to consider that up to 44% of elbow pain can be coming from the neck or upper back, so a thorough assessment of this area with a physiotherapist is very important.
Alternatively, you can book an appointment online 24/7 to see one of our physiotherapists at www.north49therapy.ca.