by Rebecca Watson
I hate to be the one to break it to you… but just because you don’t play tennis, doesn’t mean you can’t get tennis elbow! Tennis elbow (or lateral epicondylalgia) is the most common overuse injury that affects the small muscles of the forearm.
Although it is common in athletes who play racquet sports, it is also very often seen in individuals who perform repetitive tasks with their wrists and hands – such as typing, twisting, gripping, or lifting.
The muscles that control our movements at the wrist, hand, and fingers all attach at the elbow! Any repetitive movements can cause strain on these tendons over time, and lead to tiny amounts of tugging and tearing that eventually cause injury and pain in the elbow – even the smallest movements that used to be pain free can start to become quite difficult to perform.
Moving away from epicondylitis…
In the healthcare world, tennis elbow has historically been referred to as lateral epicondylitis, with “itis” suggesting that there is acute inflammation of the wrist extensor tendons.
However, with tennis elbow, we know that this is not necessarily always the case… there can be many other causes of elbow pain – and this can go on for quite some time without there being any inflammation!
Therefore, we use the term lateral epicondylalgia (“algia” meaning pain), to encompass any other causes of this condition. (inflammation, tissue degradation, tears, reduced blood supply)
So you have elbow pain… now what?
As we’ve now learned that the main cause of tennis elbow is repetitive overuse of the wrist extensor tendons, it only makes sense that to manage this condition, we must learn ways to modify activities to prevent any excessive strain on the muscles.
Talking to your physiotherapist can help you figure out the best ways to modify your regular activities to prevent any additional strain and help you safely get back into the things you love without causing worsening symptoms.
Some activity modifications may include:
- Taking more frequent breaks
- Changing your body position
- Temporarily avoiding the activity
As much as we have to reduce strain on the tendons, we also have to find ways to strengthen them to prevent reinjury and optimize our activities! This may be a combination of stretches, mobility exercises, and eccentric loading of the muscles. Your physiotherapist can help you determine which exercises are best suited for you and your goals!
Some more options for managing symptoms include:
- …and more!
Every individual injury is unique, so it is best to get advice from a physiotherapist who can conduct a thorough assessment and create a management plan that is targeted towards your goals.
If you’re struggling with managing the symptoms of tennis elbow, book an assessment today with our resident physiotherapist, Rebecca Watson, at Synergy East!
You can call us to book a consultation at (416) 551-8715, or simply book online.