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Tennis Elbow

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Tennis Elbow

The 'term tennis' elbow is used by many in healthcare to describe elbow pain however it specifically refers to discomfort on the outer aspect of the elbow that's caused by overuse or mal use of the hand and arm.

'Golfers elbow' on the other hand specifically relates to overuse and mal use affecting the inside of the elbow. Men seem to have a higher prevalence of tennis elbow and people in the thirty to fifty age range seem most affected.

A common misunderstanding is that tennis elbow is caused primarily by playing tennis. In fact the overwhelming numbers of cases we see are associated with physical occupations, DIY and gardening with the incorrect or excessive use of manual or electronic tools often being the initiating factor. A typical example is the excessive use of a hedge trimmer. In this instant the muscles of the forearm do not have the resilience to match the physical demand made from holding a 5kg tool for a couple of hours. There are of course plenty of people who make their living from hedge trimming but the key difference is that their tendons and muscles have adapted to the increased mechanical work and have conditioned up to the activity.

So what actually is it?

It's an inflammation or tear in the tendon of the forearm muscles; that's why it generally hurts on gripping and lifting actions such as opening jars, brushing teeth and using tools to name a few. In essence anyone who works with their hands such as carpenters, mechanics, factory workers and builders or plays a racket or upper limb sport such as tennis, badminton, squash, golf and, basket ball players can develop this condition.

  1. Early advice. Ice and rest may be required.
  2. Medication may play a part to reduce the pain and inflammation.
  3. A graduated programme of strengthen and stretching exercise.
  4. Physiotherapy intervention.
  5. Advice on return to sport and physical work.

How we help; below is a list of common treatments

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