What is tennis elbow?
Otherwise known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is an injury where the tendon that attaches the wrist muscles to the outer side of the elbow become inflamed and degenerated. This can normally be attributed to overuse of the muscles from activities that repetitively activate the wrist extensors (the muscles that bend your wrist backwards). For example, desk-based workers commonly suffer from tennis elbow due to typing on a keyboard continuously. Similarly, anybody using tools or gripping something tightly regularly such as tennis players are also at risk of developing it. Overuse of the tendon in this way leads to micro-tearing and misalignment of the tendon fibres. This leads to gradual degeneration of the tendon and compromises its structural integrity and power, leading to pain on activation of the muscle.
What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is classically characterised by pain around the outside of the elbow and upper forearm, just below the bony point on the outside of the elbow. There will normally be point tenderness over the area and can sometimes appear swollen in more severe cases. Any activities involving use of the wrist extensor muscles, especially overhand gripping, will usually make the pain worse. The forearm and wrist may feel weaker than normal and you may have difficulty carrying heavy objects.
How can Mike Varney Physiotherapy treat tennis elbow?
Your therapist will take a detailed history of your symptoms and then perform a physical examination of your elbow and the surrounding joints to rule out other causes of your pain. Treatments include Radial Shockwave Therapy where electro-pneumatic mechanical soundwaves are passed into the tendon from a handheld device. This disrupts the tendon fibres and stimulates the release of both painkilling and healing chemicals down to affected area, accelerating the healing process. Your therapist will also perform other treatments such as acupuncture and massage, as well as giving a home exercise plan to complete between sessions and advice regarding activity modification and the use of a tennis elbow strap to help relieve your symptoms.
Well known athletes who have suffered with tennis elbow:
Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Tim Henman, Boris Becker and many more.