Wimbledon is over, but your elbow still hurts
Tennis elbow is usually experienced as pain over the outer surface of the elbow. It often radiates up and down the arm too. The pain is frequently described as ‘insidious’, as it’s not associated with any physical trauma or particular event. The elbow itself may swell and it isn’t uncommon to experience stiffness of the elbow first thing in the morning. Not ideal if your morning exercise routine involves vigorously dancing to YMCA by the Village people.
Me? No, I prefer the Macarena. Which isn’t any easier on the elbows, if I’m honest.
What causes tennis elbow?
There are lots of theories about what causes tennis elbow, but the current most supported view is that constant overuse of the extensor tendons of the wrist leads to micro tears in them. These tendons attach to just above the outside part of the elbow.
In response to micro tears, the body lays down new tissue in a bid to repair the tissue that’s been damaged. However, as the tendons in your elbow are under constant use, the reparative tissue doesn’t always get a chance to fully repair, and it can end up remaining as immature scar tissue. This scar tissue doesn’t work as well as normal tissue, so it easily develops even more micro tears, which only makes the problem worse. All this stuff then predisposes the problematic tissues to degeneration.
How do you fix tennis elbow?
There are a variety of options open to sufferers of tennis elbow, including:
- Taking anti-inflammatory drugs
- Having injections of various kinds e.g steroids, autologous blood, platelet rich plasma, botox)
- Physical therapy
feel that most cases of tennis elbow can be relieved, even if not totally resolved, through osteopathic treatment and stretching exercises. By massaging the extensor muscles, the blood supply to them will increase. This means that the muscle will be in a better state of health and stop pulling so hard on the tendons that attach it to the bone. This results in a more comfortable muscle and a looser tendon.
Typically, we would follow on from the treatment laid out above by treating the tendon itself, by applying massage and stretching to it. The tendon will also increase its blood supply and become more healthy and supple. This means that those pesky micro tears responsible for all the pain can begin to heal and allow the tendon to start acting like a tendon again.
On top of osteopathic treatment, there is another key thing you can do to help yourself recover, and that is rest. No active person wants to hear this, but the fact of the matter is, rest is invaluable. By putting your tendons under constant demand, you won’t be giving it the fighting chance it needs to heal properly. It’d be fighting a losing battle.
The sooner you tackle tennis elbow the better. The longer it’s allowed to stick around, the more micro tears there will be in the tissues and longer it’ll take for the issue to be resolved.
Other causes of elbow pain
Of course, there are lots of other explanations for elbow pain, including nerve entrapment, bony lesions of the joint, instability of the elbow, osteoarthritis, trapped joint capsule, loose body or referred pain from the shoulder or cervical spine to name just a few. At Swansea Body Kinetics, we can help you figure out what’s going on and what can be done to banish the pain.
Who does it affect?
Yes! Around 9% of tennis players experience tennis elbow. This is down to their constant contracting of the extensor muscles in order to hit the ball away. You’re more likely to develop tennis elbow on your dominant hand, which this supports the theory that tennis elbow is an overuse injury.
Tennis elbow generally appears in people between the ages of 35 and 60, and it is estimated to affect around 4-7 people out of every 1,000 in the general population.
Things that make you a bit more likely to develop this problem include obesity, smoking, repetitive movements of the arm and forceful activities (i.e tennis).
If you’re concerned about elbow pain, give us a call on 07540 453 280. Alternatively (especially if holding a phone up to your face is hurting your elbow!) you can book an appointment here.
Don’t just put up with pain…
There is no reason why you should put up with discomfort when help is at hand
Call 07540 453 280 or
- McMurtrie, A., & Watts, AC. (2012) Tennis Elbow and Golfers Elbow Orthopaedics and Trauma Volume 26, Issue 5, Pages 337-344