Tennis elbow, or its medical name “lateral epicondylalgia”, is the most common overuse injury of the forearm. There is still debate on what exact processes cause tennis elbow, but latest research reveals it is a combination of muscle fatigue and nerve irritation leading to local inflammation initially to the surrounding tendon, local nerves and muscle which then progresses to small tears and degeneration of the tendons that attach forearm extensor muscles to the arm bone (humerus) at the elbow joint. Research also reveals the neck may be involved in some irritation of the nerve roots that lead to and through the elbow that can actually kick off an episode of tennis elbow.
Your OFP Physiotherapist will be able to diagnose what structure/s and factors are the main drivers of your pain and give you the latest evidence-based treatments to get you back to sport, work and life in full swing!
Most patients who present with Tennis elbow don’t actually play Tennis but use their wrist in repetitive gripping tasks or use forearm extensor muscles repetitively and the overuse syndrome ensues. These tendons involved are the attachment of the muscles that function to cock or extend the wrist back. Specifically, the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle has been implicated in causing the symptoms of tennis elbow. This muscle attaches to a part of the elbow bone called the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, thus giving tennis elbow the medical name ‘lateral epicondylalgia’ (algia = pain in latin). Tennis elbow used to be called ‘lateral epicondylitis’ but research over the years shows it is not simply an “inflammation” of these tendons, hence the suffix ‘itis’ has been dropped and replaced with ‘algia’ being a pain syndrome.
The most common symptoms Tennis Elbow are:
- Pain over the outside of the elbow and forearm
- Pain at work or sport with gripping tasks
- Pain shaking hands or pouring a jug / kettle etc.
- Pain when lifting heavy bags or objects
- Pain radiating down the forearm
- Weakened grip strength and wrist extension
- Early fatigue with gripping tasks
- Occasional pins and needles or tingling in the forearm