What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain around the outside of the elbow. Tennis elbow occurs when the tendon joining the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow become inflamed or obtain small tears. The condition often occurs after banging or knocking the elbow, or even if you are not used to doing a certain activity, such as: racket sports, throwing sports, manual work (gardening, decorating), and other activities that involve the elbow being bent repeatedly.

Although anyone can get tennis elbow, it is most likely to occur between 40-60 years of age, and tends to develop in the arm that is used the most.

What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?

The most prominent symptom of tennis elbow is pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow. The pain can vary from mild discomfort when moving the elbow, to severe pain- even when the elbow is still. Symptoms may occur one to three days after performing the activity that caused the pain.
Tennis elbow symptoms include:

  • Pain when lifting or bending the arm
  • Pain when twisting the forearm
  • Pain and stiffness when extending the arm
  • Pain when gripping something
  • Weak grip

Many find their symptoms ease with rest and self-help treatments. Those who experience symptoms after a couple of weeks or are suffering from severe pain should see their physiotherapist for advice on what to do next.

Tennis elbow treatment

Tennis elbow can eventually get better without treatment. However, for cases of tennis elbow extending over weeks or months, there are a range of simple self-help treatments that can aid in reducing the pain of tennis elbow.

Firstly, and most importantly, the best thing to do is rest the injured arm and to not perform activities that could worsen the condition. Placing a cold compress or heat pack on your elbow can also help to alleviate the pain. However, ensure either the ice or heat pack is wrapped in a towel to avoid them being applied directly to the skin, as this could damage it.

With more severe cases of tennis elbow, physiotherapy is recommended when it comes to helping the healing process of the arm. When treating the condition, we tend to use techniques such as massage and manipulation in order to relieve pain and stiffness. In order to achieve the best results, a thorough assessment will be carried out so the best strategy for you can be developed based on your symptoms and lifestyle. Physiotherapy treatment can also include mobilisation of the neck and elbow joints, muscle stretches, electrotherapy, and a splint or brace may also be used to relieve possible strain on the tendon.