Not just tennis elbow

Ah, finally, spring is in the air. While the warmth and beauty of spring brings about good feelings for most, there may be a small sense of dread for others. The weeds need to be picked, the roses pruned, and the backhand needs a bit of work if you’re ever going to beat the neighbour in the weekly tennis match.

So, what do you do? You get motivated and set aside a weekend to kick goals. While this may seem like a good idea, you may be setting yourself up for injury…Cue the dreaded Tennis Elbow (AKA Lateral Epicondylalgia)

Tennis Elbow is a painful condition and, as anyone who has been afflicted with it will tell you, is fairly debilitating. It affects the outer part of the forearm just below the elbow and can be characterized by a sharp pinch with certain movements and a dull ache when aggravated. Usually brought on by either a long history of intensive upper body workload or, as above, a sharp increase strenuous elbow usage, Tennis Elbow affects 40% of people at some point in their life. A full 50% of tennis players encounter this pathology at some point in their career and as many as 17% of upper body intensive manual labourers are affected with Tennis Elbow.  The scary thing about this condition is the disability and longevity of symptoms.

Diagnosis is straight forward. A physiotherapist taking a good patient history with a good knowledge of human anatomy can narrow down the diagnosis quickly. The trick is knowing what to do about it.

The best available evidence we have points to exercise and load management as the best treatment. Isolated, focused exercise can go a long way towards fixing the problem while investigation and treatment of the neck and back will help keep the issue from coming back.

Prevention, however, remains the best treatment. Enjoy the spring but increase activity gradually and incorporate lots of rest to smell the roses and banter with the neighbour about how good your backhand has gotten.

 What can we do for you:

-      Diagnosis

-      Education on pain management

-      Tailored exercise prescription

-      Global biomechanical investigation

-      Advice regarding injury prevention

 Author: Elliot Rechtin, MPhysio - Accelerate Physiotherapy