What is it? How does it happen? And what can we do to avoid it or improve it, once it happens to us?
Tennis elbow is a condition that affects the muscles around the forearm. In its medical term it is called lateral epicondylitis, which means inflammation of the outer part of the elbow. This area is the point of connection of the muscles that responsible for our wrist movements. If you use those muscles a lot (same muscles we use when playing tennis), we become tired and rest helps. However, with not enough rest and repetitive movements (>2 hours a day) of those muscles we injure ourselves and when not treated it becomes chronic and can last up to 2 years (Van Rijn et al. 2009, Hudak et al. 1999).
Tennis elbow is a common condition that we as physiotherapists encounter in the everyday life in the clinic where men and women are equally affected and people around 40-50 years of age are seeing the most (Buchbinder, 2008).
Now days, there are quite a few treatment modalities for tennis elbow available for you. However, many of those are not scientifically proved to be affected or suitable for everyone. The most common are; anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroid injections to the elbow, tapping, icing, exercises, physiotherapeutic techniques and even surgical procedure.
Corticosteroid injections proved to be effective for pain relief in the short term but you are probably interested in the long term and of course cure the problem rather than only treat the pain temporarily. Treating the core problem will allow you to participate in your life regularly in the long term and improve your life style!
Here in the Buckingham Clinic, we provide you with a fairly new treatment modality called the Shockwave therapy, which is now available for you if you suffer from tennis elbow (and also golfers elbow since it is a similar condition except in different location in the body). The Shockwave therapy is simply breaking down the scar tissue in the area and “invite” the immune system to start a healing process that will in turn lead to a formation of new healthy tissue. After few sessions patients responses are among others: “The pain has decreased dramatically”, “What a great invention” etc.
- Van Rijn RM, Huisstede BM, Koes BW, Burdorf A. Associations between work-related factors and specific disorders at the elbow: a systematic literature review. Rheumatology (Oxford).2009;48(5):528-36.
- Buchbinder R, Green S, Struijs P. Tennis elbow. BMJ Clin Evid. 2008; 2008:1117.
- Hudak L, Cole C, Haines T. Understanding prognosis to improve rehabilitation: the example of lateral elbow pain. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1996;77:586 93.