Sore elbow? This could be why…
Lateral elbow tendinopathy/tendonitis or Tennis elbow as it is better known is a common sport and occupational overuse injury.
This presents as lateral elbow pain and various manual tasks that require stabilising the wrist such as loaded or repetitive gripping or wrist extension movements that place a considerable load on these tendons. With cumulative overuse or acute overloading, an individual is not accustomed to, degenerative changes (microscopic tears) occur in these tendons. Various racquet sports, as well as occupational tasks such as carpentry, bricklaying and computer use, are associated with the development of this condition. Often there is a neural component to tennis elbow whereby the nerves running a similar course to the affected tissues show restriction to movement or contribute to the reproduction of a person’s pain.
There is good evidence that a combination of different treatments based on a person’s clinical presentation and basic principles of treating soft tissue injuries constitutes the best management of the condition. Associated deficits must be addressed: grip strength, elbow extensor muscle strength and endurance and coordination impairments of upper limb and wrist.
These are best addressed through targeted exercises. There also must be control of pain to allow participation in such a program using ice, taping/bracing, pain medication, relative rest and encouragement of healing process and resolution of trigger points through remedial massage and mobilisations. Flexibility deficits are corrected with stretching. Careful loads start with isometric loading to more complex such as concentric and eccentric as pain resolves. Clinical studies support long-term benefits and recurrence of such a regime vs common treatments such as oral medications and corticosteroid injections. Correction of sporting faults or discussion of workplace strategies must also be considered with advice in regards to flare-ups. A Physiotherapist can not only help to manage your acute flare-up but can aim to empower you to self-manage your condition in providing a comprehensive home exercise program for strengthening, coordination and flexibility.