With Wimbledon in full flow, millions of people across the world are feeling inspired to pick up a racket and head outside. We’ve been inspired to write a blog post about the injury to which tennis gives its name: tennis elbow.
While a common tennis injury, tennis elbow – or Lateral Epicondylitis to give it its proper name – can affect anyone, even those who have never picked up a racket in their lives. People who have picked up tools, paintbrushes, kitchen utensils and knitting needles perhaps, since tennis elbow can affect anyone who spends a lot of their time in work or hobby activities that require repetitive arm movements.
In the simplest of terms, tennis elbow is an overuse injury. Inflamed tendons caused by overusing the muscles of the forearm manifest themselves in pain around the outside of the elbow. The condition usually affects people in their dominant arm (i.e. the right arm in right-handed people). The pain in tennis elbow feels worse when moving the wrist with some force, for example to open a jar, or even when using everyday implements such as a toothbrush or cutlery.
As with any tendon injury, it heals slowly. The best advice is to be patient and avoid doing the activity that has caused the tennis elbow. But that’s not ideal if that activity – be it painting, cooking, gardening or playing tennis – is your livelihood.
Many people turn to physiotherapy for help with recovery from tennis elbow. Physiotherapists use manual therapy techniques, such as massage and manipulation, in their treatment of tennis elbow. This helps to relieve pain and stiffness, and encourage blood flow to the arm. Physiotherapists often recommend exercises to reduce stiffness, increase flexibility and strengthen forearm muscles.
Osteopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture can also be used to treat tennis elbow.
Osteopathy recognises that pre-existing problems with the neck, wrist or shoulder, while perhaps not painful themselves, can make it more likely for someone to suffer with tennis elbow. Osteopathy treatment for tennis elbow includes gentle massage and manipulation techniques aimed at easing symptoms and getting to the cause of the problem.
Similarly, chiropractors search for any underlying back and neck conditions that may have contributed to the development of tennis elbow in their patients. Chiropractic treatments use manipulation techniques to help restore the normal alignment and motion of the elbow joint.
And acupuncture too can be used to help with pain management in tennis elbow sufferers. This ancient method of healing, which aims to restore the flow of the body’s energy, can be used to alleviate blockages of energy flow in affected parts of the body. Some studies suggest that the stimulation of certain acupuncture points on the body can affect those areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain. There is also a belief that acupuncture needles can help to loosen tight muscles around the elbow joint.
If you think you have a tennis elbow injury, make an appointment to come and discuss it with a member of our team.