What can be done about Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is an informal label for a condition known as lateral epicondylitis. The condition is characterized by pain in and around the elbow / forearm and is usually irritated by lifting and holding tasks such as holding a saucepan, turning on a tap or (as the name suggests) playing tennis.
What is Tennis Elbow?
It helps to think of tennis elbow as process in which the structures near your elbow, mainly the tendon structures become irritated and less tolerant of being loaded. In most cases, this irritation and sensitivity arises in the absence of actual damage or injury to tissues. In other words, tennis elbow is usually nothing more than your elbow’s way of letting you know that it has been working too hard, is annoyed and needs a rest. There are instances where the symptoms of tennis elbow are also associated with structural injury. For some people with tennis elbow, an MRI or ultrasound of the elbow and forearm will reveal structural changes within the tendons near the elbow.
…your elbow’s way of letting you know that it has been working too hard, is annoyed and needs a rest
How to Fix it?
- Identify the activity or activities you have been doing that have led to your elbow getting itself into an annoyed and sensitized state.
- Take a break from that activity for a few weeks.
- Combine the rest with Physiotherapy treatment.
- Once things have settled, reintroduce activity in small increments.
There are plenty of gimmicks and gadgets available for purchase that claim to offer a cure for Tennis Elbow. No single product or treatment option has proven to be a reliable fixer of tennis elbow. The bottom line is that most often, the symptoms are “non- pathological”… which means that the pain is not the product of an “injury” as such. The key to getting better is activity modification. I have found over the years that treatment (massage, elbow mobilisation) can help to expedite recovery, but if we fail to identify and modify day to day activities that keep your elbow in a sensitized and cranky state, your symptoms are likely to persist.
If you’re dealing with elbow pain and would like to discuss your specific case, give us a call at Coogee Bay Physio.