Tennis elbow is not just caused from playing tennis. It is a condition that results in pain on the outside of your elbow and generally the bone on the elbow is extremely tender to touch. Most patients complain of pain with gripping activities and stiffness in the morning to move the elbow. The reason some patient's experience this condition is because there has been an overload in the tendon of the forearm that performs gripping tasks. As we age we tend to have normal age related changes that occur in the tendons that can be seen on investigations such as ultrasound. When these age related changes are exposed to overload they respond with a reaction that causes pain and dysfunction at the elbow.
In order to treat this condition a number of factors has to occur:
1. Activity Modification - you have to put the tendon in the right environment to heal and eliminate the activity that caused the overload in the first place.
2. Good Load vs Bad Load - to improve the pain and dysfunction in Tennis Elbow, the condition requires active treatment of exercise therapy to strengthen the underlying weakened tendon to have an increased tolerance again to be able to deal with the loads that you need to conduct on a daily basis. Too much and you run the risk of aggravating the condition, too little and you will not be treatment effective. This balance is what clinical rehabilitation under the guidance of a physiotherapist is all about - The Goldilocks Approach to finding the 'Just Right'.
- If you are experiencing Tennis Elbow then try these tips to decrease overload and pain.
1. Grip objects with the palm up instead of down will make a big difference
2. Keep the load close to your body with the elbow bent will decrease load on the tendon and elbow.
3. Don't believe you need to 'work through the pain'. This is not a condition that you want to continually provoke pain in.
Getting a physiotherapist to assess your elbow pain early on (in the first 6 weeks of it developing) will set you up for a good prognosis.