Could you have tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is a type of tendinitis, a condition characterised by irritation or inflammation of the tendons of the muscles of the forearm. It affects the muscles that attach to the outside of the elbow (the lateral epicondyle).

Sometimes pain is in one specific tender point, usually where the affected muscle attaches onto the bone in the forearm, other times the pain can radiate up or down the arm. Occasionally, swelling can be noticed around the elbow. People can also experience a weakness in their grip strength.

Any motion which causes the affected muscle to contract can cause pain. Common complaints include:

  • pain when lifting
  • making a fist
  • gripping
  • opening a door or jar
  • shaking hands.

The muscles in the forearm control the movement of the wrist and fingers, so any repetitive motions involving the forearm, wrist or fingers can result in tennis elbow. Repeated contraction of these muscles can eventually cause micro trauma and lead to inflammation of the tendons.

Common activities that can contribute to developing this condition include:

  • typing
  • gardening
  • using power tools
  • manual labour
  • racquet sports such as tennis, and in particular, playing with a poor technique and bending the wrist too much.

Golfer’s elbow or medial epicondylitis is the same condition but on the opposite side of the arm. The causes and symptoms can be identical but it is the muscles on the inside of the forearm that are affected. A poor golf swing is a common cause of this problem due to the repeated bending of the wrist.

Osteopathy may help to reduce the muscle tightness of the overused muscles and improve the overall function of the elbow. Specific exercises and minor lifestyle changes can often help your recovery. Talk to one of our friendly osteopaths today if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of tennis (or golfer’s) elbow.



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