Easy Physiotherapy Treatment for Tennis Elbow
Tony Beecroft, January 2017
It’s once again time for the Australian Open! The much-loved sport, tennis, is at the height of its popularity these days. Expect to see more people hitting their local courts with their rackets and yellow tennis balls either to play competitively or encouraged by the competition to simply improve their skills.
Due to the nature of the sport, it’s also the season for elbow injuries which are so common among players that there’s one called ‘tennis elbow’. Some of the sport’s most common injuries relate to the shoulder, stress fractures, muscle strains and tennis elbow, which can be treated with physiotherapy.
Simple Tennis Elbow Physiotherapy Treatments
Overuse of the forearm muscles causes tennis elbow, usually by repetition. This means even non-tennis players can suffer from tennis elbow by performing any activity requiring constant strain on the same muscles. Other sports involving players who suffer these are badminton and squash but most patients get it from activities such as carpentry, wood chopping, even painting and other manual labour. It’s easily identified by pain below the outside edged portion of the elbow. The pain becomes more felt with strenuous movements on the tendon muscle. It often occurs among adults between the ages of 40-50 years old.
Tennis elbow was wrongly believed to be caused by inflammation for some time. Doctors recommended injecting cortisone, an anti-inflammatory drug, which resulted in long-term adverse effects. Some would only give their patients advice which would lead to recovery when followed, but rarely do they reach near full recovery. The following are different physiotherapy treatments you could discuss with your physiotherapist:
Because the pain when having tennis elbow limits movements, only stretch your muscles up to what’s possible. Some may not be able to do it when the injury has just occurred, however, you can once the pain lessens. Extend your arms and bend your hands upwards and downwards. This stretched the wrist and improves the range of motion and allows your tendon to take on heavier loads.
2. Joint Mobilisation
This type of massage is targeted around the problem area, either a joint or the spine. It’s an effective physiotherapy treatment in relieving pain because it releases pressure from sensitive nerves or tissues. It also encourages movement while activating the body’s natural painkillers such as endorphins. It's great paired with other stabilizing treatments but best to consult with your local physiotherapist first.
3. Soft Tissue Massage
This is another good physiotherapy method for releasing tension in muscles, tendons and even ligaments and other tissues. It also improves joint flexibility and range of motion while increasing endorphins, similar to the effects of joint mobilization. It also increases blood circulation and decreases muscle spasms.
4. Hot/Cold Therapy
It’s a simple age-old technique but remains effective in reducing pain. Which to use would depend on what you want to be treated. Chronic or recurring pain, stiff joints, and muscle spasms are best treated with heat. Avoid applying heat for more than 20 minutes unless instructed by your respective health practitioner. Cold therapy should be given to new injuries in order to reduce blood flow and inflammation. It’s typically used on bruises and lessens muscle spasms. It’s advised to be applied in 15- 20-minute intervals for the first 24-72 hours after an injury occurs. When applying, don’t let the cold come in direct contact with the skin but wrap it in a pack or a towel.
Tennis elbow is an injury that’s actually more common outside its namesake sport than with its athletes. In case this injury should happen to you or anyone you know, pay a visit to your local physiotherapy clinic to discuss the several methods you can choose to alleviate your pain and aid the healing. These techniques are simple and easy for anyone to do even at home.
For more information, or to discuss tennis elbow with one of our experienced physiotherapists, contact us today.