Action Rehab physiotherapists are experienced 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.
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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.
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. 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. 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 may benefit from treatment by a 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.
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 team can also read and interpret the results.
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.
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.
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.
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.