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Tennis Elbow: Causes and Treatment

Jul 12, 2022

As we move into the summer and get to enjoy big tennis events like Wimbledon, we thought it would be timely to write something about tennis elbow or as we like to call it now lateral elbow tendinopathy (LET).

What is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is a condition that affects the muscles/tendons on the outside of the elbow and forearm. Although they attach to the elbow, the job of these muscles is to actually make the wrist and fingers extend. Symptoms can come on very quickly but more usually we see tennis elbow as a chronic condition, grumbling away and steadily getting worse with time.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptom is pain on the outside of the elbow with potentially some referral into the forearm. It might be quite tender to touch but usually, gripping and loading the arm becomes more of an issue. Things like pouring a full kettle can become a real problem. If the condition goes on long enough, you might also start to notice some weakness in the arm.

Who gets it?

Despite the name, tennis elbow actually only accounts for about 3% of tennis injuries in professional athletes. It is more common among recreational tennis players. In the clinic, we see lots of patients with tennis elbow who have very repetitive jobs, like bricklaying, painters, decorators and even DIY’ers.

What can we do to treat it?

As the condition is usually related to repetitive overload, the first place to start is to modify the activities that are potentially aggravating the symptoms. We would then look to progressively load the tendon/arm in a controlled way in order to allow the tendon to respond and repair. Unfortunately, tendons do take some time to improve and symptoms to settle. You should expect any treatment/rehab process to take at least 3 months. If pain is a real issue then we would also look to use shockwave therapy as well.

At Bridge Health & Wellbeing, our team has lots of experience in treating tennis elbow. If you are struggling with the symptoms, please do get in touch and book an appointment online today.

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