Physiotherapy for Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis, is a discomfort or pain around the outside part of your elbow.

Tennis elbow is often associated with playing tennis, where it gets its name. However, the condition can happen in any activity that causes you to overuse your forearm muscles attaching to the bony lump on your outer elbow, called the lateral epicondyle. Tennis elbow often affects the dominant (most used) hand, but can affect the other one, as well.

Causes

Overusing your forearm muscles, especially those that attach to your arm bone on the outer side of your elbow, may cause tennis elbow. There are several work activities and sports that can cause the development of tennis elbow including
  • Hammering
  • Using manual screw drivers
  • Painting
  • Plumbing
  • Playing certain racket sports, such as tennis or squash

Typing or using scissors too often may also lead to the development of tennis elbow.

Symptoms

People with tennis elbow often complain of pain and tenderness on the outer side of their elbow. In some people, the pain may seem to travel down their forearm. Pain often worsens with forearm, wrist and hand movements, such as lifting, writing, or twisting the forearm. You may also have weakness of hand gripping.

Physiotherapy for Tennis Elbow Pain

During your first visit to your physiotherapist for your tennis elbow pain, you will likely be asked about your activity, your symptoms and your medical history. In addition, your physiotherapist will conduct a thorough evaluation and examination of your elbow.

Your physiotherapist will create a treatment plan specifically made for you based on the results of your initial evaluation, symptoms and stated goals. You will be actively participating in the creation of your plan of care.

Physiotherapy Treatment Options for Tennis Elbow

There are several treatment options for tennis elbow. Your physiotherapist may employ a combination of the following physiotherapy treatment interventions
  • Cold therapy or Cryotherapy
  • Heat pack application
  • Ultrasound
  • Manual muscle stretching
  • Joint mobilization
  • Range of motion exercises
    • Active range of motion (AROM) exercises
    • Active resistive range of motion (ARROM) exercises
  • Flexibility exercises
  • General conditioning exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Patient education
    • About tennis elbow
    • Precautions
    • Activity modification
    • Self-care of symptoms
    • Injury prevention
  • Recommend proper equipment
  • Recommend brace if necessary
  • Work or sport-specific rehab program

Your physiotherapist may provide you with a home management and exercise program. Be sure to follow your therapist’s instructions carefully.

The type of physiotherapy treatments that you will receive depends on the severity of your injury. Only your personal physiotherapist or doctor can help you decide what appropriate interventions are best for you.

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