Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
Tennis Elbow is a condition that causes pain around the outside of the elbow and is clinically known as lateral epicondylitis. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a painful and self limiting condition of the elbow caused by overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm, near the elbow joint. Not surprisingly, playing tennis or other racket sports can cause this condition, hence the name. However, several other sports and non sport activities can also put you at risk. The below image will show the main point’s around the elbow that link in with Tennis Elbow.
With Tennis Elbow, you may notice pain :
- on the outside of your upper forearm, just below the bend of your elbow
bending your arm
- gripping small objects, such as a pen or a mug of tea etc
- twisting your forearm, such as opening a jar or using a door handle
- you may also find it difficult to fully extend your arm.
There are however lot’s of symptoms but these are the most common. If you feel you may have this condition you can either contact your local GP or Sports Therapist / Physiotherapist who will be able to take you through some tests to give you a more clear diagnosis.
What causes tennis elbow?
The elbow joint is a complicated one and is surrounded by muscles that move your elbow, wrist and fingers.
Tennis elbow is usually caused by overusing the muscles attached to your elbow and used to straighten your wrist. If the muscles and tendons are strained, tiny tears and inflammation can develop near the bony lump (the lateral epicondyle) on the outside of your elbow.
Recent studies by a number of leading think tanks have made positive arguments and show that tennis elbow is often due to damage to a specific forearm muscle. The muscle in question is the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) muscle which helps stabilise the wrist when the elbow is straight. When the ECRB is weakened from overuse, microscopic tears form in the tendon where it attaches to the lateral epicondyle in the elbow joint. This of course then leads to inflammation which results in the pain you feel.
The ECRB may also be at increased risk for damage because of its position. As the elbow bends and straightens, the muscle rubs against bony bumps. This can cause gradual wear and tear of the muscle over time.
There are further causes of Tennis Elbow, for more information again please contact your local sports therapist or physiotherapist.
How do you treat Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is a self-limiting condition, which means it will eventually get better without treatment. The time frame on this is subjective to how bad your condition is. Is it a fresh injury (acute) or is it something you have been putting off sorting out for a long time and as a result has now moved into a longer lasting condition (chronic).
Some people suffer with Tennis Elbow for a short time, such as a few weeks to a few months where some people can be dealing with this condition for 6 months or more, in some rare extreme cases in excess of a year if not treated properly. There are however treatments that can be used to improve your symptoms and speed up your recovery. Such as Sports Massage, Medical Acupuncture, Physiotherapy, Contrast Bathing (hot and cold) as well as some light exercises and of course rest.
It’s important that you rest your injured arm and stop doing the activity that’s causing the problem whether that be exercise or work related overuse. Holding a cold compress, such as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel, against your elbow for a few minutes several times a day can help ease the pain however here at LIVEWELL Health we would not recommend this if you can deal with the pain. The reason for this is the Inflammation process is your bodies way of telling you, you have injured that area of your body. It tells you when your doing too much with that area and when to rest it. The inflammation process is also the time your body is flooding the area with proteins and other fluids and chemicals to repair the area, similar to a construction zone. If the pain however is extreme then taking painkillers such as Paracetamol and Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen may help reduce the pain.
Surgery may be used as a last resort to remove the damaged part of the tendon but this is after extensive alternative treatment options are exhausted.
Most cases of tennis elbow last between six months and two years. However, in about nine out of 10 cases, a full recovery is made within a year.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is currently being investigated for its effectiveness in speeding the healing of a variety of tendon injuries. Current research on PRP and lateral epicondylitis is very promising however more research is necessary to fully prove PRP’s effectiveness.
How can LIVEWELL Help you with your Tennis Elbow condition?
LIVEWELL Health only employ the highest qualified sports therapists and physiotherapists from the top universities. All of our therapists are University Graduates with 3 year degrees in providing the highest level soft tissue specialism. At LiveWell Health we have therapists across the country in areas such as Birmingham, London, Manchester, Liverpool, Bournemouth, Southampton and many more locations. Our team are fully qualified in Injury Assessment and Rehabilitation and as such offer services such as Relaxing Massage, Sports Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Physiotherapy, Medical Acupuncture, Kinesio Taping, Personal Training and much more. With all of these areas of knowledge we can design the most effective plan to help you recover from Tennis Elbow but Prevent it in future.
For further information or to book a consultation please contact us today.