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Tennis Elbow

Following on from my blog on Golfers Elbow, Tennis Elbow (TE) is another common cause of elbow pain affecting the opposite, outer side of the elbow, and the official term for this one is Lateral Epicondylitis. So;

Lateral = Farther from the midline, referring to the body

Epicondyle = a rounded bony prominence

itis = inflammation

TE may cause pain to radiate down the forearm, and in some cases, cause pins and needles in the hands and fingers. Similar to Golfers Elbow, Tennis Elbow does not just afflict the tennis players it is associated with. It in fact affects about 3% of the population and I see it most often as an occupational condition, with sufferers often manual workers, but also in gym-goers and weight lifters. It is equally common in men and women, peaking between the ages of 30 and 50.

Ordinarily, TW usually begins as inflammation of the tendons of the forearm as they attach to the humerus (upper arm) bone, just above the elbow joint. This inflammation is usually caused by  gripping activities such as hammering, screw-driving, drilling, weight lifting, digging in the garden, driving and – naturally – racquet sports. In advanced conditions, simple activities such as gripping a door handle or opening a jar can be excruciating.

NB: It is important to remember that pain in the elbow region can be a referred problem from the neck or shoulders, and these should be examined in order to eliminate them before a diagnosis of Tennis Elbow is made.

The first thing to do with any acute injury is the P.O.L.I.C.E procedure, to enable some level of pain management. As with GE,  we need to assess exactly which of the soft tissues are the guilty suspects; to loosen any excessively tight areas, and ease the load of overworked muscles which may mean (short-term) amendment of offending activity. There may also be a need to correct any potential  biomechanical issue creating a problem, which will often include a graded and relevant strengthening programme. As TE is a tendinous condition, an isometric (static) programme is usually an initial approach (Ref 1), followed by a specific eccentric (lengthening) programme (Ref 2).


Ref 1

Ref 2

N.B. There are no ‘one size fits all’ style quick fixes in most injury scenarios, so these article shouldnt be seen as such. They are merely guides to a better understanding of how our bodies work.

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