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Tennis Elbow Physiotherapy In Singapore

What Is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, manifests as discomfort or pain on the outer part of the elbow, which can extend down to the forearm and wrist. It’s commonly associated with repetitive motions leading to strain. Initially, one might experience a mild ache that can intensify into a sharp burning pain, impacting daily tasks like gripping objects or turning handles.

Early intervention with tennis elbow physiotherapy can help influence the healing timeline, paving the way for a smoother rehabilitation process.

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 overloading. This condition may be common among those whose occupation involves engaging in actions that can lead to tennis elbow, including carpenters, butchers, gardeners, painters and plumbers.

Tennis Elbow Is Not An Inflammatory Condition

Tennis elbow is, in fact, a degenerative condition. As it develops through repetitive actions, the symptoms may worsen due to improper healing and cell degeneration in the tendon muscles. The structure of the overused tendon, the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB), may lose its elasticity to function optimally.

Icing, Rest, And Pain Medication Won’t Help Resolve Symptoms

Understanding the underlying cause of tennis elbow is crucial for effective treatment. While icing and painkillers may seem beneficial, they generally help to address inflammation, not the degenerative nature of the condition. A better way to address a degenerative tendon is to gradually increase the loading capacity on the tendon with weight exercises.

Pain Can Be Felt From The Neck Or Shoulder

It is essential to assess the neck and shoulder when diagnosing tennis elbow, as these areas may also contribute to the symptoms. The evaluation may include visual inspection, checking range of motion, and the strength of the upper arm to determine the extent of the injury.

Cortisone Injection Is Not The Best Treatment For Tennis Elbow

How to treat tennis elbow pain? Some research indicates that physiotherapy can be more beneficial for tennis elbow recovery than cortisone injections. Although cortisone might provide short-term relief, its long-term effects could potentially worsen the condition. Instead, exercises designed to gradually strengthen the wrist extensors and promote tendon healing are recommended to alleviate tennis elbow symptoms and restore function.

Symptoms Of Tennis Elbow

If you have tennis elbow, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Tenderness on the elbow’s outer edge, which can be particularly noticeable to the touch
  • Stiffer elbow, especially in the morning or after periods of rest
  • A continuous dull ache in the forearm
  • A weaker grip in performing certain actions
  • Pain while bending the wrist, or twisting the forearm
  • Radiating discomfort down the forearm, affecting the arm’s range of motion and function

These tennis elbow symptoms may vary in severity and resemble other medical conditions. However, if any of these signs resonate with your experiences, exploring the causes of tennis elbow and seeking appropriate treatment in Singapore can be the first step towards improvement.

Diagnosing Tennis Elbow

The diagnosis may begin with understanding the patient’s medical history and physical examination. This may include:

  • X-rays: To help exclude other conditions that may be causing the pain, such as fractures or arthritis.
  • Imaging Tests: To help provide a detailed analysis and visualisation of the tendons and muscles of the elbow to determine the extent of the inflammation.
  • Electromyography (EMG): To help measure electrical activity in muscles and detect nerve issues that may contribute to elbow pain and discomfort.

When these diagnostic approaches are employed, they can help ensure a better understanding of the severity of tennis elbow, potentially leading to an effective treatment strategy.

Physiotherapy Treatment For Tennis Elbow

1. Manual Therapy For Elbow Pain

Manual therapy involves employing physiotherapy techniques such as soft tissue and joint mobilisation. This approach can help to manage elbow pain, improve mobility, and facilitate the body’s natural healing by manipulating the tissues around the elbow. These methods are backed by research, which underscores the potential of manual therapy to mitigate discomfort associated with tennis elbow.

2. Braces

Bracing is another physiotherapy technique to help manage tennis elbow. A brace applied to the affected forearm can help to offload stress from the elbow’s joint, providing support and stability during daily activities. This adjunct to physical therapy may help accelerate the healing process by allowing inflamed tendons a chance to rest, as indicated in various clinical studies.

3. Strengthening Exercises

The basis of physiotherapy is strengthening exercises. For tennis elbow, eccentric exercises can help to gradually build tendon resilience, enhancing their ability to handle stress. Similarly, stretching can provide increased flexibility, reducing stiffness. These exercises not only help to manage the symptoms but can also serve as a preventative measure, minimising the likelihood of recurrence.

How To Prevent Tennis Elbow

Preventing tennis elbow begins with understanding the activities that can lead to strain on the elbow’s joints and tendons. Those engaging in repetitive wrist and arm motions may consider the following measures to manage their tennis elbow symptoms:

1. Targeted Exercise Regimen

Building strength and flexibility in the forearm muscles can be helpful in preventing tennis elbow. Incorporate exercises that work on wrist extension, forearm supination, and elbow flexion. Gentle stretching before and after activities may help increase blood flow and enhance flexibility, reducing the risk of muscle strain.

2. Refined Techniques

Practising the right technique can prevent undue stress on the elbow. For tennis players, this means mastering the proper backhand stroke and avoiding overextension. Golfers should also focus on their swing to ensure they’re not putting excess pressure on the elbow joint. Consulting a professional to correct your form can be a wise investment in your health.

3. Ergonomic Equipment Adjustments

Aside from correcting your form, your sporting equipment should match your physical capabilities. Heavier racquets or those with a smaller grip may increase the risk of tennis elbow due to the additional stress they place on the forearm muscles. Similarly, at work, ergonomic adjustments to your workspace can help alleviate stress on your arms and elbows.

4. Regular Rests

Taking breaks during activities that involve repetitive arm movements can allow your muscles and tendons time to recover, decreasing the chances of tennis elbow symptoms developing. However, continuous motion without adequate rest can exacerbate wear and tear on the elbow tendons, leading to inflammation and pain.

5. Mindful Movements

When lifting or bending your arm, use the whole body to lift objects, not just your arm. Engage your core and legs to take the strain off your elbow. Additionally, when carrying heavy items, keeping them close to your body can also help distribute weight more evenly and reduce the risk of muscle strain.

With these preventative strategies, you can help manage and lower the chances of experiencing tennis elbow. Understanding and respecting your body’s limits is also key to staying active and healthy without the setback of joint pain.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tennis Elbow

Can I still lift weights with my tennis elbow?

Lifting weights with tennis elbow should be approached with caution. If you choose to continue, focus on low-impact exercises and use lighter weights to avoid further strain. You may also consult a medical professional for modifications and a safe training routine that accommodates your condition.

How should I sleep if I have a tennis elbow?

To minimise discomfort from tennis elbow while sleeping, keep your arm extended and avoid folding it under your pillow. Use a supportive mattress and consider a brace or pillow to keep the arm comfortable and neutral to help alleviate pressure on the affected area.

What exercises should I avoid if I have a tennis elbow?

If you’re managing tennis elbow symptoms with physiotherapy, it’s advisable to avoid activities that can aggravate the condition. Refrain from exercises that involve gripping or lifting heavy weights, repetitive movements, or that strain the forearm muscles, such as push-ups or pull-ups.