What is it?
Tennis elbow is also known as Lateral Epicondylitis.
Lateral = towards the side. Epicondyle = location on the bone. Itis = inflammation.
Common in those who play tennis due to the movements required at the elbow and wrist. The movements irritating are repetitive, commonly gripping, extending the wrist, radial deviation, and forearm supination. Thus “tennis elbow,” but even if you do not play tennis or similar bat style sports, you may still be susceptible to lateral epicondylitis.
For non-sport related cases, lateral epicondylitis is more common in those over 40, smoke, is obese, and or complete repetitive movements for two hours daily. Persistent shoulder pain or injury where the elbow is used more may also increase the chance of inflammation.
Firstly, reducing the irritating movements and using ice on the area as guided by pain levels to ease the area. What “ease” is for one person may be different from the next.
Exercises should again be guided by pain, with a focus on maintaining or regaining strength. Do you find it difficult to open jars? Maybe picking up the milk is feeling extraordinarily heavy suddenly? It is this strength we want to regain. Further to this, stretching the muscles on the forearm, top and bottom are crucial.
- Forearm stretches (as shown to the right)
- Forearm curls, adding a resistance such as a dumbbell, resistance band or water bottle.
- Grip strength. Examples include farmers or suitcase carries, or squeezing a stress ball
The exercises as above are commonly an appropriate first step. This is not the end or a total list of all exercises that may be required to get back to your full function. Exercise progression is required in most cases.
Before going any further
Having a scan for lateral epicondylitis is often unnecessary, it is unlikely to tell you much if this is a recent onset. If pain has been ongoing with no relief after AEP/Physio/Osteo treatment, there may be a need to investigate further. Talk to your allied health professional or general practitioner for guidance. To find an AEP near you
And before your self-diagnosis and commencement of 50 reps of these exercises. Please remember this is a condition that fits into the overuse or repetitive category, and repetition can cause an increase in symptoms instead of the desired reduction.
The beauty of tennis elbow is spontaneous recovery does happen for most people within two years. With that said, most cases take at least six weeks before a change in symptoms. Adhere to your rehabilitation program. Doing some is good, doing more is not necessarily better.
This information is general only. You should always seek independent and professional advice.