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What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis Elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis, is an injury to the muscles on the back of the forearm that extend the wrist and fingers. The site of injury is typically the lateral epicondyle (shown in picture above), a bony bump on the outside of the elbow where these muscles attach.

Another condition which causes elbow pain is Golfers Elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis. This condition affects the muscles that flex the hand and wrist (on the front of your forearm) and the major site of pain is on the inside of the elbow. It isn’t as common as tennis elbow.

Tennis Elbow is caused by damage to the muscle tissue around the area the muscles attach to the outside of the elbow, the lateral epicondyle. It occurs when more force is applied to an area than the normal healthy tissues can handle. This usually happens when there are abnormal biomechanics in that area.

Typically, someone suffering from tennis elbow will experience pain when performing tasks such as gripping, lifting or extending the fingers. The bony epicondyle can be very tender and painful when touched, and the wrist muscles may also have tender points in them.

Common causes of tennis elbow can include:

  • Unaccustomed hand use. eg painting a fence, hammering, lots of typing.

  • Excessive gripping or wringing activities

  • Poor forearm muscle strength or tight muscles

  • Hitting and throwing sports

Tennis Elbow can be clinically diagnosed by your osteopath or doctor. After listening to the history of your injury, and using some physical clinical tests, a provisional diagnosis of tennis elbow can be made. An ultrasound scan or MRI are the best tests to identify any tendon tears or inflammation.

Tennis elbow can affect people from all walks of life. Tennis players can often get it (hence its name) but lots of other sportspeople and tradies can also get it, such as, electricians, builders, baristas and hairdressers. The side that is usually affect is associated with handedness, but it can also occur in the non-dominant arm, depending on the task that may have caused the injury in the first place.

Osteopathy may be effective in the short and long-term management of tennis elbow. As an Osteopath we aim to:

  1. Reduce elbow pain.

  2. Facilitate tissue repair.

  3. Restore normal joint range of motion and function.

  4. Restore normal muscle length, strength and movement patterns.

Following a thorough assessment of your elbow and surrounding joints that may be affecting and impacting the elbow function, we will discuss the findings and propose a treatment plan. Additionally, we will devise the best strategy for you to function optimally based on your symptoms and your lifestyle.

Osteopathic treatment can include: gentle mobilisation of your neck and elbow joints, elbow kinesio-taping, muscle stretches, nerve mobilisations, massage and muscle strengthening.

Back in my pre-osteopathy days as a barista, I used to suffer from tennis elbow, and making coffees can be a very repetitive task which can put a lot of strain and the hand, wrist and elbow. It was sorted out after a few osteopathy sessions!

If left untreated, tennis elbow can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years and can also reoccur after being pain free for a while.

For more advice about tennis elbow, please feel free to get in touch on 07 5543 4254 or click here make an online booking.


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