Signs and Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow or (Lateral epicondyle Tendinopathy) is inflammation or, in some cases, micro-tearing of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. The forearm muscles and tendons could become damaged from overuse — repeating the same motions again and again. This leads to pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow.  Not surprisingly, playing tennis or other racquet sports can cause this condition. However, several other sports and activities besides sports can also put you at risk.

Common Tennis Elbow Causes include:

  • Unaccustomed hand use, e.g. painting a fence, hammering, lots of typing.
  • Excessive gripping or wringing activities
  • Weak forearm muscle strength or tight muscles
  • A poor technique (this may be a poor tennis shot)

Symptoms

The symptoms of tennis elbow develop gradually. In most cases, the pain begins as mild and slowly worsens over weeks and months. There is usually no specific injury associated with the start of symptoms.’

Common signs and symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Pain or burning on the outer part of your elbow
  • Weak grip strength
  • Sometimes, pain at night

The symptoms are often worsened with forearm activity, such as holding a racquet, turning a wrench, or shaking hands. Your dominant arm is most often affected; however, both arms can be affected.

Self-care measures

Your doctor may recommend the following self-care measures:

  • Avoid activities that aggravate your elbow pain.
  • Pain relievers.Try over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Apply ice or a cold pack for 15 minutes three to four times a day.
  • Make sure that you are using proper technique for your activities and avoiding repetitive wrist motions.

Common physiotherapy interventions to manage Tennis elbow:

  • Mobilization with movement can be utilized with other measures to reduce pain and facilitate exercises. Mulligan’s mobilization with movement in TE was found to significantly reduce night pain and pain on visual analogue scale (VAS) for up to 3 months after application of treatment and increase in pain-free grip strength.
  • Exercises to stretch and strength the muscles. Eccentric muscle contraction is the standard protocol combined with isometric contraction. Exercising in the pain-free range and refraining from exercises that aggravate the pain are the common advice given in any MSK management. However, the long term benefits of exercises on loading the tendon properly and building tissue tolerance may require some pain initially.
  • Taping has a good placebo pain relief effect and pain-free grip strength in patients with chronic TE.

Physiotherapy can help reduce pain and restore muscle strength and function through exercise and manual therapy techniques.

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