Tennis elbow is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in your elbow are inflamed usually due to repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. The area of pain is at the outer part of the elbow. Pain can also spread into your forearm and wrist.
Overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm and elbow are the most common reason people develop tennis elbow. Repeating some types of activities over and over again can put too much strain on the elbow tendons. These activities are not necessarily high-level sports competition. Hammering nails, picking up heavy buckets, or pruning shrubs can all cause the pain of tennis elbow.
The main symptom of tennis elbow is tenderness and pain that starts at outside of the elbow. The pain may spread down the forearm. It may go as far as the back of the middle and ring fingers. The forearm muscles may also feel tight and sore.
The pain usually gets worse when you bend your wrist backward, turn your palm upward, or hold something with a stiff wrist or straightened elbow. Grasping items also makes the pain worse. Just reaching into the refrigerator to get a carton of milk can cause pain. Sometimes the elbow feels stiff and won’t straighten out completely.
When you begin your treatment, our physiotherapist a will give you tips on how to rest your elbow and how to do your activities without putting extra strain on your elbow. We may apply tape to take some of the load off the elbow muscles and tendons. Our physiotherapist may advise that you wear an elbow strap that wraps around your upper forearm in a way that relieves the pressure on the tendon attachment.
We may apply ice and electrical stimulation to ease pain and improve healing of the tendon. This treatment is especially helpful for patients who can’t tolerate injections. Our physiotherapist will also instruct you in exercises used to gradually stretch and strengthen the forearm muscles.
Because tennis elbow is often linked to overuse, we will work with you to reduce repeated strains on your elbow. When symptoms come from a particular sport or work activity, our physiotherapist will observe your style and motion with the activity. We may provide tips about how to perform the movement so your elbow is protected. We can also check your sports equipment and work tools and suggest how to alter them to keep your elbow safe.