I've heard of tennis elbow, what is it?

Tennis elbow is a term used to describe pain or tenderness in the forearm, and no you don’t have to be a tennis player to get it. This condition is an overuse or chronic injury that is the result of repetitive movements such as gripping or twisting. This overloads the muscles in the forearm and leads to inflammation of the tendon which causes the discomfort and pain.

Why is it called tennis elbow?

Tennis players are prime candidates to get it because they constantly grip their tennis racket. It is not exclusive to racket sports however, it is a very common condition we deal with all the time in our clinics. People who work at computers are also susceptible to tennis elbow due to using a mouse all day at work.

What causes tennis elbow?

Repetitive activities that require a lot of gripping or twisting. This could be gardening, DIY, daily mouse use at work, typing in the incorrect position, trades people like plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, we even had a piano player in with tennis elbow, and of course racket sports.

Symptoms

You will feel pain or discomfort on the outside of your upper forearm, just below your elbow. You may find that it also travels down your forearm towards your wrist. Simple movements like the below may trigger it to hurt;

  • lifting or bending your arm

  • writing or gripping small objects; when holding a pen

  • twisting your forearm; turning a door handle or opening a jar

  • fully extending your arm

The pain can be a mild discomfort right up to severe pain depending on how long it has been going on and if you can rest from what’s causing it.

Treatment

We would suggest a combination of sports massage, taping, exercises and rest from activities that cause the pain if possible. Of course you might not be able to rest from work in which case the sports massage becomes even more important to allow the muscles to relax.

We have had great success treating tennis elbow using our 3 Treatment Rule - 3 sessions close together, ideally weekly or less, combined with a home exercise programme. The sessions being close together teaching the muscles relax and not go back to their current state of chronic tension that is causing the pain.

Self help

Here are some exercises we would reccomend you try at home if you are suffering with tennis elbow. However, we recommend you book in to see a therapist if your pain has been there a long time or it is very painful.

Do the symptoms described here fit what you are feeling? Even if the pain is mild at the moment, prevention is better than cure!