What it is.
Tennis elbow is one of the most commonly occurring overuse-type injuries. The medical terms for this condition are lateral epicondylitis or lateral elbow tendinopathy. Tennis elbow involves the muscles and tendons of the forearm that attach just above the outside of the elbow joint, and which help control your wrist and finger movements. Overloading these structures, which chronically stresses the tendons and can result in damage and inflammation, is the primary cause.
It should be noted that only a small percentage of people suffering from tennis elbow actually relate the injury to being caused by tennis! It often occurs in repetitive upper extremity activities such as computer use, moderate to heavy lifting, and repeated vibration. Despite the name, it’s possible to pick up this condition from other sports such as badminton, squash, racquetball, baseball and swimming, among others. Individuals who perform repetitive one-sided movement in their jobs such as carpenters, electricians, gardeners, and desk jockeys can also develop tennis elbow.
Management and treatment
Management and treatment of tennis elbow is initially based on the principles of relieving pain and controlling inflammation. Decreased pain can be achieved by rest and either avoiding or better managing painful activities. For example, slowing down activities, and taking breaks when pain begins or increases, can be helpful. Use of ice is also recommended in order to assist in reducing the inflammatory response. The use of an elbow counterforce brace may also be helpful because it can decrease tension on the affected tendons by transferring force farther down the arm, reducing stress on the painful area around the elbow.
In order to accelerate the healing process, there are a number of things you can do. An assessment by one of our healthcare providers can lead to specific advice regarding how to best apply the above management strategies to your condition. There are also specific manual therapy techniques we can employ. Stretching the forearm extensor muscles after activity and throughout the day, as well as warming up before activity, is important. Eccentric exercises for the forearm muscles can help build their strength and resilience, and can be performed with either a hand weight or a resistance band. If you’re involved in a sport, have your instructor or healthcare provider analyze your form and technique to prevent unnecessary overload.
Chiropractic care, physiotherapy, and massage therapy can all be helpful in addressing tennis elbow. Our collaborative team of healthcare providers are here to help ensure you receive the right care at the right time. To book an appointment, contact our clinics at 613-237-9000 for the Glebe clinic, or 613-860-8600 for the Byward Market clinic.