Tennis elbow is also known as lateral elbow tendinopathy, tendinosis or lateral epicondylitis (in acute phases). Tennis elbow is characterised by elbow pain (on the outside bony part of the elbow) and often grip weakness. This can be due to injury or tendon weakening where the common forearm extensor tendon is located. The common extensor tendons are generally under more load with wrist movements, finger movement or forearm rotation. Pain is usually worse with a straight arm.
Limited blood flow to tendons combined with an underlying tendon weakness or imbalance can lead to lengthy recovery times and a debilitating functional problem. Often repetitive gripping and loading of the tendon can cause or re-aggravate tennis elbow symptoms.
Tennis elbow treatment options are diverse and do not necessarily solve the painful elbow quickly. A tailored and personalised approach using best scientific evidence is most effective.
How Can Our Hand Therapists Help?
Hand and upper limb therapists see a large number of tennis elbows and are familiar with the variety of tennis elbow treatment. We are trained to assess elbow problems and to also check for any other related forearm concerns that might coexist. This is one of the more common conditions we see and therefore we have to keep up-to-date with the best evidence for treatment. Most people will respond to graded strengthening and an arm mobility program.
There are many other options that we consider with our approach including prescription of a tennis elbow brace or support, hands-on massage, use of electrical modalities, taping or dry needling. We will also discuss your life, activities and goals to come up with practical strategies to modify how you do things and therefore reduce harmful loads to your tennis elbow. We can help teaching strategies about how to sleep with tennis elbow.
Solutions to Try
While these are general examples, our hand therapists will help match solutions best suited to your condition and specific needs.