Lateral Epicondylitis – also known as Tennis Elbow – produces pain on the outside of the elbow joint. This is due to overuse of the tendons on the lateral (outside) aspect of the elbow. Pain usually occurs as a result of overuse / repetition of the elbow and forearm muscles. Usually, this injury commonly occurs amongst tennis players due to the repetitive action of the game (hence the name). But you don’t have to play tennis to suffer from this injury – it can effect anyone.
First things first – any movement that irritates the area and reproduces symptoms must be stopped or modified. If the area keeps being irritated then this will only delay the rehabilitation period and increase degeneration. To help ease any pain, alternating heat and ice (10 mins of each starting with ice, every 3hrs) can be beneficial to help manage the pain.
Other treatments include the use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen to help reduce any inflammation that there may be. If you are struggling to carry out your day-to-day activities, pain relief such as paracetamol, may help.
Once the majority of the pain has subsided and you are able to use the injured arm reasonably well, you will be ready to start your rehabilitation plan. Take a look at the 3 exercises below:
Perform either whilst stood up or sat down. Straighten both your arms out in front of you – with both palms facing down towards the floor and then drop both wrists so they are flexed. With one of your hands, place it on the back of the flexed hand. Gently, apply a bit of pressure to the flexed wrist and hold for 30-60 seconds. You should feel a stretch down your forearm.
Repeat 5 times.
Isometric wrist extension
Make a fist – palm faced down. Sit on a chair where you can comfortably place your forearm on a table in a neutral position. Your wrist should be slightly off the edge of the table. Move wrist in a slight upward direction and resist with opposite hand. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
Repeat 5 times.
Eccentric wrist extension – weighted
Sit on a chair where you can comfortably place your forearm on a table in a neutral position. Your wrist should be slightly off the edge of the table – with your palm facing down. In this arm, hold a small weight (if you don’t have a dumbbell, you can improvise with a bottle of water or even a tin of beans!). Using the hand that isn’t on the table, lift your wrist up whilst maintaining contact with the table. Without any support, slowly lower your raised arm down with no support.
Repeat 15 times.
HOW DO I PREVENT THIS INJURY FROM OCCURRING?
Tennis Elbow is an injury that can be prevented – following the correct procedures.
If you have previously suffered from Tennis Elbow due to a repetitive sport – such as tennis – then changing your technique or even your racket may be an option. If you can, get a trained tennis coach to video you whilst playing and then sit down with them to address any changes that could be made to any of your strokes.
Wearing the correct elbow support is another form of preventing the injury from reoccurring.
If this is a problem that you find yourself suffering from, book yourself an appointment with us by visiting our website here.
Rachael Harris BSc MSc