Tennis ElbowChartered Physiotherapy in Blackpool, St. Annes, Lytham, Poulton, Cleveleys and Fleetwood
What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is an injury to the muscles that extend down to the wrist and fingers, usually centred around the lateral epicondyle – a bony bump on the outside of the elbow where these muscles attach to the elbow joint. You’ll experience pain when trying to grip things and may have trouble extending your fingers or wrist. There will also be tenderness around the epicondyle (bony bit of your elbow), as well as tender points in the muscles at your wrist. You may also have a stiff neck and signs of nerve irritation. Despite being derived from an injury at your elbow, most people don’t experience any pain moving their elbow.
What causes tennis elbow?
A huge 40% of tennis players and 15% of those working in repetitive manual trades are thought to suffer from tennis elbow. Acute tennis elbow comes from damaged muscle tissue at the connection point with the arm bones at the elbow, and happens typically when you’ve applied more force than your tissues can healthily handle. Some common triggers include unusual hand uses (such as painting a fence, sawing or prolonged periods of typing), excessive gripping or wringing motions, a weakened forearm muscle or generally tight muscles, and poor sporting techniques (an incorrect swing in tennis, for instance). Chronic (long term) tennis elbow is more likely to be the result of degeneration in the soft tissues at the epicondyle which are easily injured, rather than inflammation from overuse.
How do you treat tennis elbow?
First off, it’s crucial that you get the right diagnosis. A significant number of tennis elbow sufferers experience similar symptoms which are actually referred pain from a cervical spine (neck) injury, such as the C56 neck joint which transmits pain along the radial nerve. When the radial nerve has problems with neural mobility, the pain can also appear to be tennis elbow. As physiotherapists, we’re the experts in neck and upper limb neurodynamics, and we’re trained to pinpoint the cause of pain, including neck dysfunction and neural tension.
Once we’ve identified that a problem at the lateral epicondyle is the culprit, there are a range of different techniques we can use, tailoring the approach to your specific condition and your aims for recovery. Our treatments will aim to reduce pain, facilitate tissue repair, restore your normal range of motion and function, restore your muscle length, strength and movement, and bring your upper limb neurodynamics back to normal. We’ll measure your progress using techniques like your pain-free grip strength, tweaking the treatment at every stage to match your progress. Treatments can include gentle joint mobilisation, electrotherapy, kinesio taping, muscle stretches, neural mobilisations, massage and strengthening exercises.