Tennis elbow is a form of tendonitis and you don´t have to go anywhere a tennis court to get it! Tendons are largely made of collagen which has a very high tensile strength. They connect muscles or muscle groups to their boney attachment and do not have a great blood supply which is why once you have it – it is difficult to get rid of.
The muscle groups involved in Tennis Elbow are those that bring about grip with some extension to the wrist and attach to the outer knobbly bit of your elbow. TE is brought on by repetitive gripping activities or carrying a heavy load.
The symptoms of Tennis Elbow include pain and tenderness of the bony prominence on the outside of your elbow and difficulty locking it in full extension. The pain may radiate up or down the arm and there may also be some swelling or redness of the skin.
Simple activities will bring on pain and a weakened grip such as opening a door, trying to pour your glass of wine or reaching something out of the fridge.
So what can you do about it?
Complete rest would be ideal but unfortunately most of us can´t do this so protecting the tendon from repeated stress is the first thing to consider. There are many TE supports on the market from expensive rigid supports attaching at the elbow and wrist to a more humble neoprene and velcro band. Our patients often find these cumbersome and awkward at work as they can catch on clothing. An alternative is to use cohesive bandaging. This form of bandage sticks to itself and not the skin and can be loosened and tightened easily as required during your day. 3 turns around the widest part of the forearm is sufficient and you should find that the pain is diminished when you grip.
Ice at any opportunity during the day for a good 15 minutes each time until the area is red. It is important that the whole elbow is cooled not just the knobbly epicondyle.
Anti-inflammatory gels and creams may also help and can be purchased at the pharmacy without prescription.
If there is no improvement then a physiotherapy assessment would be advantageous. The physiotherapist will use techniques such as frictions, passive stretching, interferential diathermy and ultra-sound to encourage healing and repair.
If the problem is being particularly stubborn then oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatories may be prescribed.
In some cases, particularly if your elbow is a repeat offender, your physio may refer you to an Orthopaedic surgeon for infiltration of steroids or hyaluronic acid into the area. This injection quickly reduces pain and combined with physiotherapy produces good results however the infiltration on its own may not necessarily be a definitive cure.
The Physiotherapy Centre
+34 609 353 805