Have you been told you have tennis elbow?
You might be confused, especially if you don’t even play tennis! Although playing tennis may be a contributor to this diagnosis, there are many other activities that can lead to Tennis Elbow. The main contributor to Tennis Elbow is repetitive overuse of the extensor muscles of the forearm. This can include racquet sports and throwing based sports, but can also include working at a computer, working in a trade or a job that includes repetitive lifting.
Our client Sarah came into Defy a month ago. Sarah has had a few changes to her routine over the past 6 months. She recently switched roles at her job which now involves a significant increase in computer work. Also, Sarah started playing squash with her neighbour twice a week about 3 months ago.
She has noticed over the past month that she has had an increased pain on the outside of her right elbow. It seems to get worse after squash and days with increased typing at work. It finally got to a point where she realized it was not going away on its own and booked a Physiotherapy Assessment at Defy.
Here is what Sarah told us on assessment to determine it might be “Tennis Elbow”:
- Increase in repetitive demands on the forearm (squash and job demands)
- Localized pain and tenderness on the lateral side of the right elbow
- Increased symptoms in lateral after repeated use of forearm extensors
- A feeling of weakness with gripping when flared up
Here’s what we saw and found during the assessment:
- Tenderness to the touch of the bone on the outside of the elbow (lateral epicondyle)
- Weaker grip strength on right versus left when hand grip strength was measured
- Pain and weakness with resisted wrist extension
- Full range of motion at the shoulder and neck (it’s important to make sure elbow symptoms aren’t coming from these areas!)
Here’s how we helped treat Sarah’s Tennis Elbow on day one:
Education: Provided Sarah with a timeline for healing her tennis elbow. We provided Sarah with education on ergonomics for her desk set up to reduce stress placed on the forearm extensors.
Activity modification: Reduction of repetitive stress for 6-8 weeks, incorporating a home exercise program that progressively loads the forearm extensors. Adding load is very important to promote healing of the tendons.
Exercises: We started Sarah with light eccentric strengthening as well as stretching for the wrist extensors and supinator muscles
- What is the main cause of tennis elbow? The main reason for developing tennis elbow is overuse or repetitive strain of the forearm extensors.
- Will tennis elbow fix itself? In many cases it will heal on its own but there are effective strategies to speed the process of healing. Reducing triggers, rest and proper return to exercise are all ways to help with the process of fixing tennis elbow.
- What should you not do if you have tennis elbow? Try to avoid exercises and movements that bring on high levels of pain. Try to avoid repetitive forearm work such as typing if possible. However, strategic re-introduction to the painful movements should be a part of an effective rehabilitation plan.
DO YOU HAVE ELBOW PAIN?
- We are able to help individuals of all ages and at all activity levels (recreational to competitive).
- We offer direct billing to most major insurance companies for the convenience of our clients.
- We have appointments as early as 7am and as late as 7:30pm to accommodate busy lifestyles.