Tennis elbow (TE) is the most common elbow condition we see in the physio clinic. It is characterised by pain on the outside of the elbow and most prevalent between the ages 30-60. Although common in tennis players you do not need to have played tennis to get this condition. It is caused by an acute or progressive overload to the common extensor tendons in your forearm that perform wrist extension or lifting the wrist up. Some examples of overload may include after a weekend of excessive gardening, a busy period at work of typing and mouse work, lifting weights incorrectly and technique problems during sports.
You do not require any scans or investigations to diagnose TE. Your physiotherapist will perform a number of tests to confidently diagnose this condition. You can even diagnose TE yourself with these following positive tests:
- Pain to push on the bony prominence on the outside of your elbow
- Pain to resist against lifting up your wrist or middle finger with a straight elbow.
- Pain on the outside of your elbow with gripping an object.
Treatment may be as simple as rest from aggravating activities and some advice regarding modifications to your daily habits, work station set up, gipping action and sporting technique. Taping, bracing and self-mobilisations can often work really-well to help decrease pain. A progressive strengthening exercise program is advised so you can build up the capacity of your wrist extensor tendons to prevent a recurrence. You should be seeing significant improvement in pain and function around 8-12 weeks. Cortisone injections have been shown to have no additional benefit to physiotherapy for TE and in fact there was less improvement and greater recurrence in patients receiving cortisone injection compared to physiotherapy alone. Only 5-10% of TE patients undergo surgery which is reserved as an absolute last resort in those who do not respond to physiotherapy treatment.
If you think you may have tennis elbow make sure to see make an appointment with one of our physiotherapists who can help get rid of your pain and make you a rehabilitation plan. Please phone our friendly reception staff on (07) 3511-1112 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We are located upstairs at The Gap Racquet and Health Club, 200 Settlement Road.