Physiotherapy for Lateral Epicondylitis

Physiotherapy can help with your lateral epicondylitis pain and other symptoms. In addition, your physiotherapist can help you improve your muscle and joint flexibility and strengthen weakened muscles.

Overview of Lateral Epicondylitis

Lateral epicondylitis occurs when the tendon attaching on the outer side of your elbow becomes irritated and inflamed. It is often associated with overuse of the forearm muscles that attach to your upper arm bone on the outer side of your elbow. Lateral epicondylitis is also known as tennis elbow.

Physiotherapy for Lateral Epicondylitis

The aim of initial physiotherapy treatments for lateral epicondylitis is to relieve your symptoms of pain and swelling or inflammation. Initial treatments may include applying the RICE principle of therapy. RICE stands for rest, ice application, compression, and elevation.
  • Rest and avoid movements that worsen your symptoms. Your physiotherapist will suggest about activities that you can perform as your injured tissues heal while avoiding certain movements that aggravate your symptoms.

  • Ice application helps to relieve your symptoms of pain and swelling. Your physiotherapist will apply an ice pack wrapped in towel over the site of your injury for not more than 20 minutes. He or she may advise you to continue icing your injury when you get home. Follow your therapist’s instructions carefully to avoid injury from ice application.

  • Compression using an elastic wrap or bandage and elevating your injured limb above the level of your heart as you rest may help minimize or prevent swelling. Your physiotherapist may teach you how to properly bandage your injury.

After your initial treatments and your symptoms have subsided, you may begin with your rehabilitation to help you return to your original activities or sport. Your lateral epicondylitis rehabilitation program often includes stretching or flexibility exercises and strengthening exercises.

General Physiotherapy Treatment Options for Lateral Epicondylitis
  • Cryotherapy or cold therapy
  • Heat pack application
  • Electrotherapeutic modalities
    • Ultrasound / Phonophoresis
    • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) / Iontophoresis
  • Gentle manual stretching / self-stretching exercises
  • Gentle range of motion exercises
  • Progressive strengthening exercises
  • Patient education
    • About lateral epicondylitis
    • Precautions to observe during your recovery period
    • Modification of home or work activities
    • Self-care of symptoms
    • Injury prevention
  • Work or sport-specific rehab program

The physiotherapy treatments that you receive will depend on the phase of your rehabilitation. Your physiotherapist will help you determine the right treatment options for your particular needs and goals.

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