What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is characterised by pain on the outside of the forearm near the elbow. The pain comes from small tears and inflammation where the forearm tendon joins the bone.
The term ‘tennis elbow’ is misleading because most people who have it don’t play tennis. It is known medically as lateral epicondylitis. The lateral epicondyle is the bony part of your outer elbow.
What causes tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is an injury often caused by overuse. It occurs when the muscles and tendons in your forearm are strained through a repetitive or strenuous activity, especially if it involves twisting and gripping.
- playing racquet or throwing sports, such as squash
- using shears while gardening
- using a paintbrush or roller while decorating
- using scissors or a computer mouse
Tennis elbow can also occur if you bang or knock your elbow.
Tennis elbow is usually a self-limiting condition, which means it should eventually get better without treatment. However, left untreated, tennis elbow could last as long as 6 months to 2 years, occasionally much longer.
It is the most common overuse injury of the elbow, 10 times more common than golfer’s elbow which is similar but affects the inside of the elbow.
How is tennis elbow diagnosed?
We’ll ask you how your symptoms developed and what makes them worse. Then we’ll carry out an in-depth physical examination to determine that it is tennis elbow and not another elbow condition such as nerve entrapment. You don’t normally need an x-ray or scan.
What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?
You may experience pain:
- on the outside of your elbow and in the muscles of your forearm.
- when lifting or bending your arm
- when gripping a small object such as a pen
- when twisting your forearm, such as opening the lid of a jar or turning a door handle
You may also find it difficult to fully extend your arm.
If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, book an assessment with The Forge Clinic team on 020 8332 6184.
Our approach to treating tennis elbow at The Forge Clinic, Richmond
Our aim is to help reduce pain and promote healing so you can get back to the activities you enjoy as soon as possible.
Following your assessment we’ll discuss which specific treatment options are most suitable for you.
Your treatment options may include:
- manual therapy techniques such as massage, manipulation and stretching
- correction of posture and movement
- a tailored home exercise programme to build on treatment progress and prevent re-injury
- occasionally bracing to reduce strain on the tendon
In severe and persistent cases of tennis elbow, other treatments that could be considered are steroid injection, shock wave therapy, autologous blood injection and, in rare cases, surgery. We will be able to advise you on the various approaches.
Treat your elbow and arm pain now at The Forge Clinic Richmond