Physical Therapy: How to deal with tennis elbow

Lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow is a common injury we see as physiotherapists.

Lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow is a common injury we see as physiotherapists.

It involves inflammation around the bony aspects of the outside of the elbow. This can be a painful experience and can have a long healing process.

It can be caused by direct trauma to the outside of the elbow or more commonly by overuse of the wrist extensor muscles. Wrist extensor tendons attach to the outside part of the elbow and are responsible for controlling some of the movements of the wrist.

The dominant hand is most often the side that is affected.

Lateral epicondylitis usually presents with some or all of the following: diffuse achiness, morning stiffness, occasional pain through the night, pain with gripping, dropping objects, or tender to touch the outside of the elbow.

Lateral epicondylitis is not limited to problems at the elbow as the shoulder and neck can also have a contribution to the onset of pain. The elbow pain can start acutely where the pain is abrupt or the pain can be a gradual onset.

Many jobs require heavy lifting, repetitive motions, or prolonged gripping which can all lead to lateral epicondylitis.

It is common in jobs such as construction/electrical or jobs that require large volumes of typing.

There are a number of recreational activities that can cause this type of injury. As we move into summer some of the more common activities include kayaking, wake boarding, golf, squash, racquetball, weight lifting, baseball, and of course tennis.

There are a number of treatments used to treat tennis elbow. One common treatment you may see people using is a tennis elbow brace which can help reduce the strain on the affected muscles and tendons.

Other treatment options may include:  rest, ice, modalities such as ultra sound and IFC to reduce inflammation, stretches, and strengthening.

Some ways to minimize your chances of developing lateral epicondylitis include reducing repetitive activities or using your non-dominant hand more often; reduce forceful grasping; take frequent breaks; and break up lifting heavy loads into smaller more manageable loads.

Following a few or all of these guidelines may help reduce or avoid this painful condition that can so often take months to heal completely.

For more information on this topic you are invited to attend his free lecture on Wednesday, May 30, 6 to 7 p.m.,  at our Glenmore clinic, 202-437 Glenmore Rd. RSVP to 250-762-6313 to reserve your  seat.

Adam Bernard is a registered physiotherapist  at Sun City Physiotherapy’s Glenmore location.