Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Tennis Elbow... Not just for tennis players!

Tennis Elbow also know as lateral epicondylitis, is often associated with tennis players. However there are varying causes of tennis elbow. Some examples I've seen in the clinic include; a plasterer in his 40's who was struggling to work because of the pain, a lady in her early 30's who had been gardening all weekend as well as my own dad who had been doing lots of DIY jobs around the house (I'll blame my mum for that!).

Tennis elbow is set off by 'overloading' the extensor muscles of the forearm, in particular a muscle called the extensor carpi radalis brevis. Any action that is repetitive involving lots of gripping or extension of the wrist can cause the onset of tennis elbow. This is why activities such as plastering, gardening and DIY cause tennis elbow.

If you are suffering from tennis elbow your symptoms may include some of the following:
  1. Pain around the outside aspect of your forearm
  2. Discomfort on gripping (sometimes even just picking up a cup of tea)
  3. Weakness on gripping or picking up items
  4. Pain on extending the wrist against resistance
  5. Pain on extending your middle finger against resistance (this is a test we use to diagnose tennis elbow)
Tennis elbow is seen most commonly in individuals over the age 30, however it is sometimes found in individuals below the age of 30. Diagnosis is normally fairly simple and generally no other imaging is needed (E.g. MRI / Ultrasound).

Recovery will most often be around 4 - 6 weeks however if the symptoms have been around for a long period then this is likely to significantly extend the recovery period. If you do have any of the above symptoms get seen as early as possible, it will make it much easier to treat.

If you come in to see me for this problem, treatment may include any of the following:
  1. Advice on reducing forces around the forearm
  2. Massage to the extensor muscles to reduce tension
  3. Ultrasound to promote the inflammatory process
  4. Prescription of a tennis elbow brace to off load the muscles
  5. Progressive (eccentric) strengthening exercise for the forearm
As always if you have any questions please email me directly, my email address can be found here.

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