Tennis elbow is one of the most common overuse injuries among athletes and active individuals. It affects approximately 10 percent of all tennis players and one to three percent of the general population. Even though it’s not debilitating, it can affect your quality of life and overall physical performance.
This injury is often treated with physical therapy. Certain exercises and therapeutic techniques can help reduce pain and improve range of motion. Furthermore, they accelerate healing and prevent the injury from becoming chronic.
What Is Tennis Elbow?
Lateral epicondylitis, commonly referred to as tennis elbow, causes inflammation of the tendons in your forearm. It results from repetitive gripping activities and can occur at any age. This type of injury develops over time due to the constant stress placed on the muscles and tendons. Any activities that involve repetitive motions, such as racquetball, tennis, weight lifting, and squash, may contribute to tennis elbow.
However, athletes are not the only ones at risk. Carpenters, painters, plumbers, and other people who perform repetitive movements as part of their job can develop this injury as well. The main symptom is a constant pain in the elbow, wrist, and forearm. Sufferers find it difficult to do simple things, such as holding a cup of coffee, turning a doorknob, and even shaking hands.
In rare cases, this injury can result from trauma to the elbow. For example, if you hit the wall with your elbow by mistake, you may experience pain and swelling. Without appropriate treatment, your elbow can become more susceptible to future injuries.
Signs and Symptoms
Most people with this condition experience pain and tenderness on the outside of their elbows. The pain may become worse when you’re holding or grasping an object, and tends to be more severe in the morning. Other common symptoms of tennis elbow include:
- Soreness of the forearm muscles
- Stiffness of the elbow
- Wrist pain
- Weak grip strength
- Pain when twisting your forearm
- Neck stiffness and tenderness
In general, this overuse injury heals with minor treatment. However, it tends to be more severe in athletes and individuals who continue to perform the activities that caused this problem in the first place.
How Effective Is Physiotherapy for Tennis Elbow?
Physical therapy is the most widely prescribed treatment for tennis elbow. It can reduce or eliminate the need for pain relievers, and has both immediate and long-term effects. If the pain doesn’t subside on its own, physiotherapy can help.
A specialist can diagnose your condition and teach you exercises that will gradually strengthen and stretch your forearm muscles. Wrist turns and wrist extensions, fist clenching, FlexBar exercises, forearm pronation and supination, and eccentric wrist flexions are just a few examples. These simple movements can improve grip strength and make everyday activities easier.
The goal of physical therapy is to accelerate healing and provide relief from pain. This treatment method also helps improve the flexibility and strength of your forearm muscles, leading to a reduced risk of injury. Certain therapeutic methods can increase blood flow to your muscles and tendons, helping you recover faster.
In addition to wrist exercises, your physiotherapist may recommend KT taping, straps, muscle stimulation, ice packs, ultrasound, and other treatment methods. He will also show you how to take the strain out of everyday activities and avoid future injuries.
Tennis elbow usually requires six to eight weekly physiotherapy sessions. Most patients experience significant improvements after three to four sessions.
At Back to Health, we specialize in treating tennis elbow and other common injuries, from sciatica to shin splints and ACL tears. Contact our team at 888-312-5764 so we can develop a custom treatment plan based on your individual needs!