What Exactly is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is an injury that involves the common extensor tendon situated at the lateral (outside) part of your elbow. This common tendon extends into the muscles that extend the wrist (extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) and longus, extensor digitorum, extensor digiti minimi, and extensor carpi ulnaris). Throughout our day we use and abuse this tendon and associated muscles when we type, use a mouse, lift objects with our hands, garden and more. We commonly use our wrists in sports such as golf, tennis, weight lifting and other racquet sports.
This injury is an overuse injury, wherein the tendon is not strong enough to handle the load and gets overloaded, irritating the tendon and ultimately causing pain (1). The tendon that is involved mostly 90% of the time is the extensor carpi radialis (1).
We used to believe it was tendonitis, however, studies now show it is not an inflammatory disease but an overloading injury (1). This is why if we rest the tendon and then go back to doing daily activities the pain comes back.
Statistics show about 40% of people will experience tennis elbow in their lifetime, and prevalence of 15% in people who have jobs that require highly repetitive tasks using their hands (2). In half of tennis players with an elbow injury, 75-80% is tennis elbow (2).
Are you experiencing tennis elbow? Try this exercise
Isometric wrist extension
-Support forearm of injured elbow on a table with wrist sitting off the edge.
-Place other hand on knuckles
-Extend wrist of injured arm into palm of good hand and hold. You should see your wrist extensors working. This exercise should not be painful.
-Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions of 10s holds
If you are suffering from elbow pain or tennis elbow that has been around for a while feel free to reach out to one of our physiotherapists. They will be more than happy to get you on your way towards recovery.
By Physiotherapist, Paulina Backiel
1.Bhabra G, Wang A, Ebert JR, Edwards P, Zheng M, Zheng MH. Lateral elbow tendinopathy: development of a pathophysiology-based treatment algorithm. Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine. 2016 Nov 1;4(11):2325967116670635.
2.Bisset LM, Vicenzino B. Physiotherapy management of lateral epicondylalgia. Journal of physiotherapy. 2015 Oct 1;61(4):174-81.