Tennis Elbow Physiotherapy
What Is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a painful condition that occurs primarily on the outer aspect of the elbow. However, pain can also spread to the forearm and wrist. It is a classic repetitive strain injury which starts out with symptoms such as dull aching, gradually developing into a severe burning sensation and eventually leading to a loss in gripping strength. At some point, activities of daily living such as shaking hands, turning a doorknob or holding a cup of coffee may seem difficult.
The recovery process is promising if intervention is done properly at the early stage.
Understanding Tennis Elbow & How To Treat It
It has nothing to do with tennis
Contrary to what one may believe, it has nothing to do with tennis. As explained earlier, tennis elbow is a repetitive strain injury of the wrist and arm, resulting from doing the same movement again and again. People whose occupation particularly engage in the type of action which can lead to tennis elbow include carpenters, butchers, gardeners, painters and plumbers.
Tennis elbow is not an inflammatory problem
Tennis elbow is in fact a degenerative problem. As the condition develops over time through repetitive actions, the symptoms worsen due to improper healing and the degeneration of cells in the muscles of the tendon. The structure of the overused tendon, the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB), is distorted and loses its elasticity to function optimally. Evidence suggests that inflammation may not even be an issue.
Icing, rest and pain medication won’t resolve tennis elbow symptoms
The ability to identify the cause of this condition is important as it changes the course of treatment. Icing, avoidance of movement and pain medication only works to reduce inflammation. A better way to address a degenerative tendon is to load it with weights gradually.
Pain can be referred from the neck or shoulder
A thorough assessment of the neck and shoulder should also be included to rule out any referred pain. Besides that, examinations such as appearance, range of motion, and strength of the upper arm will be carried out to evaluate the severity of injury.
Cortisone injection is not the best treatment for tennis elbow
Physiotherapy treatment is said to be beneficial in the recovery of tennis elbow as compared to cortisone injection. Various studies have proven that cortisone injections provide placebo and positive outcomes during earlier stages but cause more damage in the long run.
On the other hand, studies have shown benefits of eccentric loading in such conditions. Exercises are targeted on the wrist extensors through eccentric loading to strengthen the degenerative tendon.