Lateral epicondylalgia (Tennis elbow)
What does it look/ Feel like?
Pain around the outside of the elbow / forearm. Usually worse first thing in the morning or at the beginning of tasks, then warms up as you get going. It can be quite a sharp pain when lifting or squeezing (something simple like lifting a shopping bag or coffee mug) but can ache after a solid bout of activity.
What is it?
Tennis elbow is aggravation of the extensor tendons of the wrist/ hand. The muscles that move the wrist and hand are long, they start around the elbow. Tendons can become aggravated when they are over worked, if they sustain a blow (bumping the elbow) or when they are placed on stretch.
What causes it?
As mentioned above, any activity that places sudden high loads on the wrist extensor tendons, stretches them or a bump to them. An obvious example is tennis, but even occupational activities such as lifting with overhand grip or handwriting can lead to a progressively worsening pain. Sometimes this process can be kickstarted by simply bumping the outside of the elbow then adding too much activity afterwards.
Can it be fixed?
Yes! It certainly can. The best researched treatment for tennis elbow includes a combination of progressive strength exercises, managing load (how much exercise /aggravating activity performed) and adapting the way you perform tasks around the house or work. Other therapies such as tape and bracing can also help begin the healing process.
How long will it take?
Usually if treated early, improvement can be noticed within the first few weeks and final symptoms resolve in around 6-8 weeks. This process can be a bit slower if the symptoms have been present for a while. Treatment can also be dragged out if reducing or adapting aggravating activities does not take place.