Tennis season is in full swing right now during the summer months, so I want to share with you this month our top tips for treating the dreaded ‘TENNIS ELBOW!’
Firstly, what is a Tennis Elbow?
The injury name - ‘tennis elbow’ is a little confusing and suggests that only tennis players suffer with it, when in fact anyone can develop the condition! Typically the age group I see with it is between the age of 30-50yrs, with most doing manual jobs/hobbies that involve the arm/wrist/hand. (Mechanics, builders, painters, chefs, cleaners, IT workers & of course all the racket sports out there including tennis & squash!)
There are many names for the condition out there including: Tennis elbow, Lateral elbow pain &/or Lateral Epicondylitis. They all pretty much mean the same thing = pain in the outer elbow.
How do you get a Tennis Elbow?
Injuries to the outer elbow are usually triggered by some form of overuse (doing too much too soon or years & years of doing the same thing). Any major increase in wrist usage can overtime weaken the tendons that attach onto the elbow, possibly causing some damage, pain and sensitivity in that area. Usually if you ignore the problem it only gets worse! Don’t look for the quick fix as they don’t work.
Here at the Physio & Sports Injury Clinic in Rhos on Sea, we see many tennis elbow clients every year, so here are my 4 initial Top Tips:
Go see a Sport Physio ASAP, Don’t wait!!! You need to get your elbow properly diagnosed first to check if it actually is a true tennis elbow or not. Physio actually is the only proven medical treatment that is better than rest for a ‘true’ tennis elbow. Physio treatment however can take between 12-16 weeks to help clear (so not that quick), but if you leave it and do nothing you are talking a minimum of 12+ months to possibly clear or not!
Get your self an ice-pack
Ice the elbow regularly each day. Ice should help numb the pain from the bone instead of having to take painkillers all the time.
Buy a tennis elbow support-strap.
The elbow straps can be very useful when having to still do activities/tasks in work which you cannot avoid doing. They do however need to be fitted properly each time you put it on. (90% of people don’t wear them correctly which is why people say they don’t work - people place them too near the sore tendon/bone). I personally prefer the straps to tape, as tape will irritate the skin with repeated use.
Don’t let your GP give you a steroid injection!
Research has shown people who have steroid injections for tennis elbows are worse off after 12 months than if they’d not had one! Steroid injections do give some immediate pain relief, but because of this they then give people false hope thats it’s fully better. I see this so often that people go straight back to their old habits again with no physio input. No pain doesn’t mean fully recovered & strong! Sterioid injections appear to be a ‘quick fix’ not a long term solution.
So there you have it, my initial Top Tips for anyone with a possible Tennis Elbow.
If you or a friend are struggling with a Tennis Elbow at the moment and don’t know what to do, then click the link below to get it touch and we’ll do our best to help.
Thanks for reading.
Oliver - Chartered Physiotherapist.