What is Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylalgia)?
Tennis elbow is a common condition responsible for considerable pain at the elbow joint. This pain can be enough to affect an individual’s social and work life. Other names used to describe this condition are lateral epicondylalgia and lateral epicondylitis. The condition is most prevalent in the age groups of 45-54 years.
Tennis elbow is thought to be a result of an overuse injury to the extensor tendons of our wrist and fingers. They originate from a protuberance on the outside of our elbow as tendons and connect to muscle, then attach to our wrist and fingers.
How does the injury occur?
The overuse is usually in the form of repetitive movements. This may include heavy lifting, using power tools, gripping objects, awkward movements at the wrist and forearm and even typing and mouse usage can sometimes contribute to this. It can also be caused by direct trauma to the elbow region
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms associated with tennis elbow can include pain at the elbow and weakness when gripping objects. Depending on the individual, the pain can be present at rest, during activity or both.
Will it heal?
Yes! The natural course of the condition seems to be favourable with a spontaneous recovery within a 12-18 month period in 80-90% of people.
Despite the natural course of the condition, people experiencing debilitating pain will benefit from a physiotherapist to guide their recovery. This will involve pain management strategies, activity modifications, equipment prescription, workplace ergonomic assessments and exercise prescription to facilitate optimal healing of the injured tendon. All of this will aid in increasing the quality of life of the injured individual.