Action Rehab physiotherapists are experts in tennis elbow and its treatment. Tennis elbow might sound like a sports injury, but really it can happen to anyone who performs a repetitive action. We treat bricklayers, painters, typists and musicians but anyone can be at risk, so it’s really important that if you are experiencing tennis elbow symptoms that you visit our physiotherapists for diagnosis, and a tailored treatment plan so that you can return to full function sooner.
Or click the button below to schedule an appointment online
There are many existing theories as to the cause of tennis elbow. Historically, there has been much debate about whether or not Tennis Elbow is inflammatory or it is a tendonopathy? Debate continues however, on the whole, tennis elbow is generally viewed as a loss of core stability in the elbow and an overuse of the wrist muscles that insert into the elbow! So a wrist motion that hurts at the elbow! Yes. In basic terms, when a tendon is stressed repeatedly to the point that the stress exceeds the tendon’s level of tolerance, microtears occur that lead to degenerative changes within the tendon. This then leads to an instability at the elbow and a loss of strength. The human body compensates for this loss of stability and strength by swelling the elbow joint (microscopically) and this can put pressure on the nerves.
Tennis elbow involves inflammation and degeneration of the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB) tendon where it inserts into the elbow (lateral epicondyle). This muscle is a pure wrist extensor and so the demand placed upon it during forceful and repeated wrist extension is high. Add to that, age (weakening the tendons and the muscles) and then activity (bricklaying, typing) and it is not surprising that the tendons of this muscle can tear.
An injury or tear to the lateral epicondyle may decrease the stability of the elbow. At Action Rehab our therapists focus on restoring stability to the muscles around the elbow that provide this stability. This is why it is important that you choose Action Rehab for your Tennis Elbow treatment in Melbourne. It is really important that your therapist is able to identify the source of your pain or instability, and the complexities associated with diagnosing Tennis Elbow.
Call us on 1300 762 227 for an appointment, or schedule an appointment online by clicking the button below.
View the video below to learn more about Tennis Elbow. As explained by Action Rehab founder Ben Cunningham.
Tennis Elbow isn’t a tennis injury in fact it only occurs in 5% of all tennis players. Modern racquets mean we don’t get Tennis Elbow from tennis. It’s more likely to happen if you’re a typist, bricklayer, painter and decorator, carpenter, Mum, Dad, musician, or tailor (as well as many others) you are at risk of developing this condition. Tennis elbow is painful because of it’s close association with the radial nerve at the elbow. This is why often patients report a “shooting pain” in the elbow with Tennis elbow.
Most patients have pain or tenderness on the outside of the elbow, sometimes extending down the forearm to the wrist that needs to be assessed and treated by an expert hand therapist. Patients can present with stiffness, difficulty of movement, pain and weakness when performing simple gestures or actions such as opening jars, shaking hands or opening doors.
Tennis elbow requires specialist treatment from a qualified hand therapist. The problem can become chronic and very painful if there is instability in the elbow and the tears are not given adequate time to heal, strengthen, and stabilise.
Tennis Elbow requires a thorough physical examination by an Action Rehab expert hand therapist, once the diagnosis is complete a treatment plan is prepared to get you back to the things you love. Action Rehab hand therapists will ask, where the pain is, what sort of pain is it (shooting? burning?). Action Rehab hand therapists will assess your strength, your motion and your occupations to see what the symptoms and most importantly what the cause may be. In most cases, your medical history and physical exam will be enough for us to make a diagnosis. However, if an MRI, ultrasound or X-Ray is required we can refer you for one of these and then our experts can also read and interpret the results. You do not need a specialist surgeon for this and your therapist can assist.
Action Rehab hand therapists have treated a vast number of Tennis Elbow patients, and we believe our treatments work where others may not have because we focus on the “cause” of your symptoms and not on the symptoms themselves. Most Tennis Elbow treatments include cold or ice therapy, soft tissue massage, injections, broomstick exercise, weights and stretching. In some cases these treatments might work but generally patients who attend Action Rehab hand therapy have tried all of these somewhere else, and they are no better, often worse!
At Action Rehab we see Tennis Elbow as a loss of stability that is causing inflammation and pain. The aim of therapy for this condition is to reduce pain by supporting the wrist and increasing strength and stability in the wrist extensors, pronators and supinators and the elbow stabilisers. At Action Rehab we will attempt to improve your Tennis Elbow through conservative treatments and not injections.
Once your Action Rehab therapist has diagnosed the problem they’ll provide education to help you understand your Tennis Elbow and where the cause is coming from. Is it inflammatory? Is it a tear? Is it unstable? Your treatment will then be tailored to get you back full function as soon as possible.
So to get on top of your Tennis Elbow pain, see an Action Rehab Physiotherapist to get a diagnosis, treatment plan, and return to full function sooner.
At Action Rehab we will tailor a core stabilisation treatment program specifically for your condition. Your Action Rehab Physiotherapist will help you to understand your injury and the best treatment plan for it.
The best thing you can do to prevent tennis elbow is to have strong core stability. As we age we tend to work in more sedentary jobs and we weaken our core stabilisers. Our elbow is a good example of that. Your Hand Therapist at Action Rehab can teach you core strengthening exercises that can treat as well as prevent Tennis Elbow. Most importantly, if you start to get pain, stop, and see your Action Rehab Therapist
What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is generally viewed as a loss of core stability in the elbow, and an overuse of the wrist muscles that insert into the elbow. So, in basic terms it is a wrist motion that hurts at the elbow.
How common is tennis elbow?
It is very common in people over 40. The condition is common across many types of sports and jobs that require repetitive bending of the wrist in a backward direction (such as typing).
How does tennis elbow develop?
Tennis elbow can develop in a number of ways. It could be that you’re trying a new gym program, and you’re a bit out of condition, or it might be your technique, or maybe an imbalance somewhere along the chain from your neck to your fingers (quite possibly it is all the above) – either way if you suspect something might be developing, or if you want to be proactive and prevent it from happening, see Action Rehab Hand Physiotherapist as soon as possible.
Is tennis elbow serious?
Yes, tennis elbow can be seriously debilitating. The problem can become chronic if the tears are not given adequate time to heal, and you are not shown how to safely train to increase your core stability of the elbow. The aim of therapy for this condition is to reduce pain by supporting the wrist and increasing strength and stability in wrist and elbow stabilisers.
Is tennis elbow different to golfer’s elbow?
Yes, they are actually completely different and treated in completely different ways. Golfer’s elbow is much more about bending the elbow and tennis elbow is actually a repetitive wrist injury! Treatment is not the same and an expert assessment will help you understand if you have one or the other.
How long does it take for tennis elbow to heal?
Tennis Elbow healing will depend on your treatment. Poor advice, strengthening the wrong muscles, strengthening in the wrong way can actually make your condition worse and prolong treatment. Injections can increase inflammation and in fact prolong treatment despite the advice being that they are meant to speed it up. Most specialists will advise you that treatment for tennis elbow takes up to 12 months however that advice comes from those who struggle to identify the cause. Treatment of the cause can really assist in speeding up the time taken for Tennis Elbow to heal.
Can tennis elbow heal on its own?
Yes it can. Some people live with the condition, and it can just recover however it may take up to 12 months. It also depends on the severity. In severe cases surgery can be required to help the elbow to heal.
How is tennis elbow treated?
At Action Rehab tennis elbow is commonly initially treated with a wrist brace to take pressure off the common extensor origin or lateral epicondyle. There is often an inflammatory component to the symptoms in the early stages and the nerve in the forearm can be quite painful, so the splint makes a big difference to the pain. Once the pain has decreased then tennis elbow patients are started on a core stabilisation and strengthening program for the wrist and elbow. This is progressed carefully and slowly and your rehabilitation program is watched by your expert Action Rehab hand therapist.
Does tennis elbow ever require surgery?
Rarely. In severe cases that fail with conservative treatment and stabilisation. Surgery should be the last resort as patients still require a lot of strengthening and stabilisation post-surgery.
This information has been verified by Action Rehab director Ben Cunningham.
Ben Cunningham is currently the hand therapist at Melbourne Football club (afl) and the director of Action Rehab. Ben has over 20 years’ experience providing hand and upper limb therapy, including working in the united kingdom at the queen victoria hospital and as the senior clinician at the alfred hospital in melbourne.