Tennis elbow is an acute injury to the muscles that are responsible for extending the wrist and fingers. Tennis elbow is considered chronic when it lasts for more than 3 months. The location of injury for tennis elbow occurs where the muscles attach to the bony bump on the outside of the elbow.
What Are the First Signs of Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow usually causes pain when performing gripping tasks or during finger and wrist extension. There may also be tenderness over the bony area in the elbow. Occasionally some people experience neck stiffness and nerve irritation.
The pain associated with tennis elbow can sometimes travel from the outside of the elbow and into the forearm and wrist. The pain and weakness caused by tennis elbow can make it difficult to perform basic gripping tasks such as turning a doorknob, shaking hands or picking up a cup of coffee.
How Do They Test for Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is usually diagnosed through a physical examination. Diagnostic imaging may be necessary to rule out other causes or injuries that produce similar symptoms such as arthritis, nerve entrapment or fractures.
Some of the common causes of tennis elbow include:
- Repetitive tasks such as typing, painting or hammering
- Excessive gripping activities
- Poor technique, such as a poor tennis shot
- Poor forearm strength
- Tight forearm muscles
What Can I do At Home for Tennis Elbow?
There are a few things to do at home to help heal from tennis elbow, such as:
- Avoiding activities that aggravate the pain
- Using an ice pack for 10 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day
- Pain medication
- Avoid repetitive wrist movement
What Exercises Can I Do to Fix Tennis Elbow?
There are some effective exercises that can help with the recovery from tennis elbow. However, it’s important to discuss this with your physiotherapist to ensure you are performing the exercises correctly.
- Finger Stretch – touch all fingers to thumb and place a rubber band around them. Gently open and close your thumb and fingers and repeat 25 times.
- Wrist Flexor – Hold arm out straight with palm facing up. Use the other hand to bend your hand back towards your body until you feel it in the palm side of your forearm. Hold for about 15 seconds.
- Wrist Extensor – Just like the wrist flexor except your palm faces down.
- Ball Squeeze – squeeze and release a tennis ball in your hand up to 25 times.
What is the Best Treatment for Tennis Elbow?
Physiotherapy is proven to be an effective treatment for tennis elbow, in both acute and chronic cases. Physio for tennis elbow aims to:
- Support tissue repair
- Reduce pain
- Restore normal range of motion
- Restore function
- Strengthen muscles
Although tennis elbow may heal without treatment, this can take up to 2 years and is prone to returning. Studies show that physio for tennis elbow is the most effective way to manage this condition with most showing significant improvement after 3 weeks. For further advice about tennis elbow, contact your local physiotherapist.