Acute tennis elbow is an injury to the muscles that extend the wrist and fingers. The pathology behind tennis elbow isn’t fully understood, but it’s related to changes that occur at the tendon on the outer elbow. It’s often known as lateral epicondylitis, but more current terms for this condition are extensor tendinosis or extensor tendinopathy. Tennis elbow occurs after overuse of the tendons and muscles in the forearm, near the elbow joint. Tennis elbow is sometimes caused by playing tennis, but it’s also caused by many other activities that cause stress on the wrist/elbow. Tennis elbow is most common in people between the ages of 35-60 and affect 1-3% of the population.
If you begin to experience this kind of issue, early diagnosis and treatment can help you get on top of it quickly and effectively. This is crucial because if it’s left to develop into what is known as a “chronic” condition, treatment at a later stage is often less effective and can take longer to improve the condition. This is characterized by pain, weakness and degeneration of the tendon. It can become very persistent and difficult to treat. Seeing a physiotherapist is one very effective treatment option.
What can be done to ease your elbow pain? First off, be careful with overuse of your arm and avoid things that aggravate it. Easy, controlled use is important here. For decreased pain, ice and heat can be used well (Ice in the early stages, three to four times a day for 20-30 minutes, with heat sometimes being beneficial later on). Physiotherapy addresses muscle tension (reduces the pull on the tendon and allows healing), and rehab exercises and movement is required (exercises to put the right forces to re-align tendon fibers strongly).
The rehabilitation process can be tackled in a few phases. First phase is to decrease inflammation and pain while promoting tissue healing. The second phase involves improved flexibility and increased strength and endurance. The last phase deals with resolving your symptoms and gradually increasing your activity now that you have regained your full range of motion.
If you are currently experiencing pain and having trouble with tennis elbow, contact us and come in for advice, treatment and rehabilitation exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles. The good news is that tennis elbow is a very common problem and can be treated.