With the Australian Open in Melbourne upon us you may feel inspired to pick up your racket! Understanding Tennis Elbow By Melina Harrison

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What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis Elbow is clinically known as lateral epicondylitis. It causes pain on the outside of the elbow.

It usually occurs after overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm, for example when playing tennis.

 

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow. What you feel.

Pain on the outside of the upper forearm, just below the bend of your elbow

Pain when lifting or bending your arm

Pain when gripping objects, such as a pen or a kettle

Pain when twisting your forearm, such as turning a door handle or opening a jar

 

What causes tennis elbow? The clinical bit.

The elbow joint is surrounded by muscles that move your elbow, wrist and fingers. The tendons in your elbow join the bones and muscles together.

Tennis elbow is usually caused by overusing the muscles attached to your elbow, called the forearm extensors.  If the muscles and tendons are strained, tiny tears and inflammation can develop near the bony lump (the lateral epicondyle) on the outside of your elbow.

 

Do I need to play tennis to get Tennis Elbow?

No. Tennis Elbow is often caused by activities that place repeated stress on the elbow joint, such as decorating and gardening. I have treated many patients with this condition, none of them played tennis!!!

 

Treating tennis elbow

Tennis elbow is a self-limiting condition, which means it will eventually get better in time.

Rest the injured arm and stop doing the activity that’s caused the problem.

Strapping, taping and tennis elbow supports can take pressure of the affected area when performing daily tasks, allowing healing to take place.

Cold compress. Holding a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel, against the painful elbow for a few minutes several times a day can help ease the pain.

Painkillers, such as paracetamol, can help reduce pain.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can also be used to help reduce inflammation.

Manual Therapy such as massage and manipulation to the affected area may help relieve the pain and stiffness, and improve the range of movement of the effected elbow.

Surgery is a last resort to remove the damaged part of the tendon if the condition does not respond to conservative care.

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