Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis elbow)
Lateral epicondylitis also commonly known as tennis elbow is an injury often caused by overuse or repetitive actions putting increased load and strain through the elbow. This overload can lead to inflammation of the tendons on the outer side of the elbow causing pain, swelling and weakness in these structures.
Only 5% of tennis elbow cases come from people playing tennis!
Other factors that contribute to the development of this condition include:
- Overuse: The most common cause. Repetitive activities such as repeated gripping, twisting, lifting or extending with the wrist and forearm. This can be seen in activities such as tennis, badminton, baseball, field throwing, in occupations like electricians, carpenters, gardeners, cleaners and desk bound jobs to name a few.
- Improper technique: Poor technique throughout sport or work-related activities can increase the stress placed on the forearm tendons, increasing the risk of developing lateral epicondylitis.
- Age: As we age, our tendons can become weaker, less elastic and more prone to strain, therefore increasing the likelihood of lateral epicondylitis.
The symptoms of lateral epicondylitis can vary but commonly include:
- Pain or burning on the outer side of the elbow
- Often worsening with activity and improving with rest
- Weakness when extending the wrist
- Weakness during gripping activities
- Rest from aggravating activities
- Modifying techniques in sport/work activities to reduce strain on affected tendons
- Taping or brace to help reduce stress on the tendon
- Forearm stretching and strengthening exercises
With adequate physiotherapy, most individuals with lateral epicondylitis will return to full recovery and be able to return to their activities. Being patient and committed to the recovery process is important as recovery can take several months and poor adherence can lead to frequent recurrence of symptoms.