Tennis elbow is a common condition that occurs when the tendons in the elbow become inflamed, leading to pain and discomfort. While this condition often affects tennis players, it can also occur in people who engage in repetitive arm movements, such as carpenters, painters, and plumbers.
The good news is that physiotherapy can be a highly effective treatment for tennis elbow, providing relief and improving function. In this blog post, we will look at the benefits of physiotherapy for tennis elbow and how it can help you recover from this frustrating condition.
What is Tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow, often referred to as lateral epicondylitis in medicine, is an uncomfortable ailment marked by irritation and inflammation of the tendons on the outside of the elbow. Despite its name, this ailment can often affect anybody using their forearm muscles. It is more than just a problem for tennis players.
Common symptoms include pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow, especially during activities involving gripping, lifting, or twisting motions. Elbow pain is often caused by overuse or repetitive strain on the forearm tendons, leading to microscopic tears and discomfort. Proper diagnosis and early intervention, such as physiotherapy, can help alleviate symptoms and promote healing.
Causes of tennis elbow
Tennis elbow can result from the following activities:
- Participating in racquet sports like tennis, badminton, or squash involves frequent wrist twisting and elbow bending.
- Engaging in throwing sports like javelin or discus, which put repetitive strain on the forearm muscles and tendons.
- Repeatedly using hand tools such as gardening shears, screwdrivers, or scissors requires gripping and twisting motions.
- Performing decorating, plumbing, or bricklaying tasks involving prolonged use of tools and repetitive arm movements.
- Engaging in activities with delicate, repetitive hand and wrist movements like typing or sewing.
- Playing musical instruments like the violin, where bending the elbow and using forearm muscles is common.
All these activities can contribute to the development of tennis elbow due to the repetitive stress placed on the tendons around the elbow joint.
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Tennis Elbow Vs. Golf Elbow
Despite their similar-sounding names, Tennis and golf elbow are two distinct conditions that affect the elbow and forearm. Let’s highlight the key differences between these two conditions:
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis):
- Location: Tennis elbow affects the outer part of the elbow, specifically the lateral epicondyle, where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach.
- Cause: It is primarily caused by repetitive movements and overuse of the forearm extensor muscles, especially during activities involving gripping, twisting, or lifting.
- Symptoms: Common symptoms include pain and tenderness on the outer side of the elbow, weakness in the forearm, and discomfort during wrist movements.
Golf Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis):
- Location: Golf elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, affects the inner part of the elbow, specifically the medial epicondyle, where the tendons of the forearm flexor muscles attach.
- Cause: It is caused by repetitive stress and overuse of the forearm flexor muscles, often resulting from activities that require gripping and flexing the wrist.
- Symptoms: Typical symptoms include pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow, weakness in gripping objects, and discomfort during wrist flexion.
Benefits of physiotherapy for tennis elbow
Physiotherapy offers a range of benefits for individuals suffering from tennis elbow. The following are the specifics of each benefit:
Reducing pain and suffering is one of the main aims of physiotherapy for elbow pain. Through various techniques like manual therapy, ultrasound, or laser therapy, physiotherapists can target the affected area, reduce inflammation, and ease muscle tension. Additionally, they may recommend specific exercises to promote blood flow and healing, leading to significant pain relief over time.
Improved Range of Motion:
Tennis elbow can limit the range of motion in the affected arm, making daily activities challenging. Physiotherapists employ stretching and range-of-motion exercises to restore flexibility and improve mobility to the elbow joint gradually. These targeted interventions help loosen tight muscles and tendons, improving the range of motion and enhancing overall arm functionality.
Strengthening of Affected Muscles:
Tennis elbow weakens the forearm muscles, reducing grip strength and stability. Physiotherapy incorporates exercises that specifically target the affected muscles, promoting gradual strengthening. By gradually increasing the resistance and intensity of these exercises, physiotherapists aid in rebuilding muscle strength and endurance, essential for a swift recovery.
The combined efforts of pain relief, improved range of motion, and muscle strengthening result in improved overall function of the affected arm. Physiotherapy helps individuals regain control and stability, enabling them to perform daily activities, sports, or work-related tasks with increased comfort and efficiency.
Reduced Risk of Recurrence:
One of the significant advantages of physiotherapy is its focus on long-term benefits. Beyond symptom relief, physiotherapists work on addressing the root causes of tennis elbow. They educate patients on proper body mechanics and techniques by identifying faulty movement patterns, improper techniques, or contributing factors. This knowledge empowers individuals to make positive lifestyle changes, reducing the risk of recurrent tennis elbow or similar overuse injuries.
When to seek professional help?
If you’re experiencing persistent or worsening symptoms of tennis elbow, it’s essential to seek professional help from a qualified physiotherapist. If you notice pain and tenderness on the outer side of your elbow, weakness in your forearm, or discomfort during wrist movements, it’s time to consult a physiotherapist. Additionally, seeking professional assistance is crucial if the pain interferes with your daily activities, sports performance, or work tasks.
At Proremedy Physio, we understand the impact of tennis elbow on your daily life and are dedicated to providing personalized and effective physiotherapy solutions. Our team of experienced physiotherapists will conduct a thorough assessment to identify the root cause of your tennis elbow and design a customized treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Physiotherapy benefits people of all ages who need to enhance their strength, mobility, and flexibility. It can help them achieve their goals and live a healthy and active lifestyle. The treatment can be performed by physiotherapists who are licensed professionals providing services in a range of healthcare settings like hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare departments.
Physiotherapy, also known as Physical Therapy is an effective treatment that can help people affected by illnesses, injuries, or disabilities. Using manual exercises, movements, and advice, helps restore movement and function and makes your day-to-day life much easier. It also improves your quality of life.
They use a range of techniques to improve one’s well-being. They also play a key role by helping athletes in managing sports injuries and get relief from pain.
At our Physiotherapy Clinic in Mississauga, we provide various services to help clients with different needs and issues. We encourage development and facilitate recovery to allow people to get back to their normal routine and remain free from any health issues or injuries.