Symmetry Blog

Injury of the week - Tennis Elbow

Symmetry Physio - Wednesday, June 26, 2019

With Wimbledon just around the corner and an Aussie No.1, lets look at a well known tennis injury.


Injury of the week - Tennis Elbow


Aussie superstar Ash Barty has been recently crowned number one on the international tennis circuit after her win at the French open and will hopefully head to Wimbledon next week as the top ranked female.

Given her success and the up coming Wimbledon tournament lets take a look at the well known condition called the ‘tennis elbow'.

Funnily enough ‘tennis elbow’ is not just an injury sustained by some tennis players. It is a very common injury amongst the general population particularly those in manual work and activities that involve repetitive gripping or wrist movements such as bricklaying, using
screw drivers, knitting and typing.

Tennis elbow can also be known as lateral epicondylitis or extensor tendinopathy. These are terms used to describe inflammation and changes to the tendon structure around the outside of the elbow. Repetitive use of the forearm muscles due to sport or manual work activities can lead to excessive loading and pulling of these tendons at the elbow. Microscopic tears occur within the tendon which can result in pain, reduce elbow movement and cause weakness making the tendon vulnerable to further injury. If the same repetitive load continues, further changes can occur within the tendon causing degeneration. This reduces the tendons ability to tolerate and withstand forces and eventually normal function is impaired and day to day activities can become difficult and pain during the night can be problematic for some.

Management of tennis elbow will vary depending on the initial cause. In a tennis player it maybe looking at a racket change, assessing and re-training the biomechanics of a serve, backhand or forehand, modified training and possible rest from competitions for a period of time. If the issue is due to manual work, modification of the individuals work tasks or procedures, use of tools etc. maybe appropriate for a period of time while the tendon is healing and strengthening, which can unfortunately take several months.

In order to assist in the return to the desired sport or activity physiotherapy may include:

  • Advice regarding activity modification
  • Icing
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Taping or bracing
  • Gradual and specific strengthening program
  • Dry needling

Identifying the underlying cause and mechanism of tennis elbow and treating it early is optimal to assist with a good recovery.

Kim Garland

Symmetry Physiotherapy





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