Tennis Elbow

Extensor Tendinopathy, or tennis elbow as it is more commonly called, is a condition in which the outer part of the elbow becomes painful and tender. It is generally an “overuse” injury, with repetitive stresses causing the wrist extensor tendon to undergo degenerative changes and weaken. It can become a vicious cycle, with tendon degeneration and weakening making the tendon more susceptible to further injury and so on. This cycle needs to be broken by establishing the contributing factors, strengthening the tendon involved and making necessary changes to prevent it recurring.

Common Causes

  • Any activity which involves repetitive use of the muscles of the forearm – for example typing and labouring jobs
  • Poor office or work place ergonomics can also contribute to the development of tennis elbow
  • Only a small percentage of people who suffer from tennis elbow actually play tennis!

Common Symptoms

  • Pain over the outer part of the elbow
  • Tenderness to touch over the lateral epicondyle (the bony part on the outside of the elbow) and up to 3 cm below this point
  • Increased pain with hand gripping
  • Increased pain when using the wrist is bent backwards against resistance
  • Pain and, or weakness with simple tasks such as handshaking, turning a door handle or typing

Self Management

  • Apply ice, or perform ice massage to the area for up to 20mins and repeat at least 3 times daily
  • If possible try to rest from any activities that are aggravating the condition

Physiotherapy Management

  • Assess the elbow, neck and upper limb to assess underlying movement dysfunction which may be contributing
  • Treat the area locally using releases, stretches,  mobilisation and dry needling
  • Implement an eccentric strengthening program to strengthen the tendon
  • Suggest any workplace or sporting modification that may be necessary to prevent the condition recurring
  • Refer you on for appropriate further treatment, such as nitrate patch therapy, if necessary