WHAT IS IT?
Tennis elbow is a condition that often stems from overuse, and is more common in smokers and the obese, and in people who use repetitive movements, and participate in forceful activities. While playing tennis is a common contributor to this condition, in my experience as a physiotherapist, it could just as easily be called cleaner’s elbow, or even better, using-loppers-to-trim-the-trees-in-my-garden elbow.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
The muscles that control your hand and wrist are mostly situated on the front and back of your forearm, and these muscles need to be in balance with each other to work efficiently and effectively. Sometimes, for one reason or another, this balance can become disrupted, and this can result in the development of tennis elbow. There are other causes and contributing factors too, such as nerve impingement or tightness, cervical (neck) dysfunction, stiffness of the thoracic spine and ribs, as well as tight muscles of the neck, chest and back, among other things.
Your physio will ask questions to establish likely causes or contributing factors, and will thoroughly examine your arm, neck and spine to gain clues as to where the problem may be situated. As the contributors to tennis elbow can be so varied, the treatment approach between a number of patients with similar symptoms could be significantly different from each other.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Treating tennis elbow can be tricky, and the techniques used for each person will vary. They may include:
- Joint mobilisation (neck, back, shoulder, elbow, wrist)
- Neurodynamics (nerve mobilisation techniques)
- Home exercises
- Advice for activity modification
- Soft tissue massage
- Dry needling or acupuncture
- Fitting of an elbow brace to offload the aggravated areas
Other treatments can include corticosteroid injections, platelet-rich-plasma injections, and surgery, though as with most conditions, it is well worth having some conservative treatment such as physiotherapy before considering more invasive options, and in fact, studies have shown that long-term benefits of physiotherapy vastly outweigh those of corticosteroid injections.
Your physio will guide you in the right direction, and will tell you which of these treatments are best suited to you. If any of this sounds familiar to you, call 82892800, or click here to book an appointment.