Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylalgia) is the most common cause of elbow pain in Australia. Ironically the condition has nothing to do with tennis, with only 1-20 sufferers actually being tennis players.
How Does Tennis Elbow Occur?
The condition arises from repetitive movement in the forearm from any activity that strains the muscles around the elbow. This includes activities such as playing a musical instrument, swimming or even cooking. It’s reported that Up to 30% of repetitive task hand workers suffer from Tennis Elbow.
What Are The Symptoms?
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, typical signs and symptoms of Tennis Elbow include pain and burning on the outside of the elbow and weak grip strength. Age can also be a contributing factor to the onset of the condition. It is estimated that those aged between 30-50 are most at risk.
If you are currently experiencing pain related to Tennis Elbow, here are some methods for short-term pain relief below:
• Ice the affected area as soon as you notice any pain
• Take anti-inflammatory drugs such as Panadol or Nurofen
• Learn new techniques for certain movements
• Stop or change the repetitive movements that are causing pain
Recovery and Ongoing Prevention
• Depending on the severity, physical theory rehabilitation may be an avenue of recovery
• Rest - This is probably the most important part of your recovery!
• Consider regular soft tissue massages, this may reduce pain and swelling
• Wear a specialist elbow brace or support to assist in reducing strain on the tendon – this will allow healing to take place
• Kinesio taping may help decrease the pain and can also reduce the likelihood of injury aggravation.
Stretches for Prevention of Tennis Elbow:
Wrist Flexor Stretch
1. Extend your arm in front of you with your palm up
2. Bend your wrist, pointing your hand toward the floor
3. With your other hand, gently bend your wrist further until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearm
4. Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times
Wrist Extensor Stretch
1. Repeat steps 1 to 4 of the stretch above, but begin with your extended hand palm down
Acute Tennis Elbow
Acute Tennis Elbow is a far more severe condition. Tennis Elbow symptoms that occur immediately and last for a period greater than 6 weeks are considered to be sub-acute. Symptoms that continue beyond three months are classified as acute. The vast majority of acute Tennis Elbow cases do respond well to conservative treatments such as rest, ice, ultrasound and occasionally a steroid injection. If surgery is required, then it may take up to 8 weeks for full recovery.
Surgical Management for Tennis Elbow
At some point, after struggling with Tennis Elbow for months or even years despite extensive treatment, tricks and tips – You may eventually have to ask yourself, 'Is it time for surgery?
Surgery may be done using arthroscopy. This is a minimally invasive technique where an arthroscope is inserted into the area and allows the surgeons to see into the joint. Other small instruments are able to be inserted and can manipulate the joint and tendons around the area.
In some cases traditional open surgery may have to be performed, or a combination of the two techniques.
Surgery for tennis elbow may involve removing any inflamed or dead muscle and cutting the tendon and then reattaching muscle back to the bone. Surgery will very between individuals and the presenting condition.
How Can We Help?
Dr Manish Gupta is a highly regarded surgeon skilled in repairing chronic Tennis Elbow conditions and orthopaedic conditions of the upper arm. If you have been experiencing pain associated with Tennis Elbow and would like advice on how to manage and improve your condition please visit Dr Gupta for a full consultation. You can book an appointment using our online booking form here.