Tennis Elbow: Getting To Grips With This Painful Problem

I’m sure many of us will have heard of a painful condition called Tennis Elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis. This is a type of repetitive strain injury and, unsurprisingly, many people believe it is caused by playing too much tennis or other racket sports such as squash. In fact, only around 5% of people who suffer with it get it from playing racket sports and there are many other everyday activities that can cause this problem.

Some of these include;

  • Excessive computer use
  • Heavy lifting
  • Engaging in activities or using tools with repetitive vibration
  • Gardening e.g. pruning bushes
  • Jobs that involve greater movement on one side e.g. electricians, carpenters, decorators

What is Tennis Elbow?

The elbow joint is surrounded by several muscles which move your elbow, wrist and fingers, while the tendons in your elbow join the bones and muscles together and control the muscles of your forearm.

When these muscles and tendons are overused and/or get strained, it causes tiny microscopic tears and inflammation can develop near the bony lump (the lateral epicondyle) on the outside of your elbow. This is Tennis Elbow.

If the pain occurs on the inner side of the elbow (the medial epicondyle), this is often known as Golfer’s Elbow.

You may notice pain:

  • on the outside of your upper forearm, just below the bend of your elbow
  • when lifting, bending or extending your arm
  • when gripping small objects, such as a pen
  • when twisting your forearm, such as turning a door handle or opening a jar
  • In severe cases, you may have pain when you’re resting, which can affect your sleep

According to the NHS, with the right advice and by following a prescribed treatment and exercise plan, around 90% of tennis elbow cases will make a full recovery within a year. In more severe cases, the recovery time can take up to 2 years.

What to do if you have Tennis Elbow

Like all injuries, the path to recovery begins once you have a complete understanding of what activity has caused the problem in the first place and to stop doing it until you have recovered fully.

Resting the injured arm is key. Wrapping an ice pack or packet of frozen peas in a towel and holding it against your elbow for 5 minutes, 4 times a day should help ease the pain and accelerate the recovery process.

In more persistent and severe cases, seeing a manual therapist such as an osteopath is recommended for Tennis Elbow. Osteopathic techniques – including massaging and manipulating the affected area to help increase blood flow – can help relieve stiffness and pain and improve the range of movement in your arm.

If you have any questions about Tennis Elbow, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling us on

Henley: 01491 281 972

Thatcham: 01635 597 290

and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

Thanks for reading,

Maria

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