What is a tennis elbow? (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Written by Randy Atmo, Orthomedix

A tennis elbow is most prevalent in persons between the ages of 40 and 50. There doesn’t seem to be a correlation with a particular gender for this pathology.

A tennis elbow refers to an overuse of the muscles in the forearm responsible for extending the fingers and the wrist. These muscles originate from the lateral (most outer part) of the elbow. This overuse leads to an inflammation which generally occurs where the muscle tendon inserts onto the bone.

How to a tennis elbow occur?

The term ‘tennis elbow’ is misleading as this pathology is not exclusively related to the sport. A tennis elbow occurs over time when there is a presence of chronic overuse. This may be related to the following activities:

  • Tennis
  • Badminton
  • Squash

But also other activities, such as:

  • Overuse of the wrist during activities of daily living
  • Excessive computer-and/or mouse work
  • General physical labour (handy-work, cleaning etc.)

What are the symptoms associated with a tennis elbow?

With a tennis elbow, the pain is usually located on the most outer part of the elbow, usually at the insertion of the extensor muscles. The pain can generally be felt when direct pressure is applied, or when the extensor muscles are being stretched.

Secondary problems may include decrease in strength and coordination.

How is a tennis elbow treated?

At Orthomedix, we will determine whether you have a tennis elbow through a history taking and a thorough physical assessment. Furthermore, we will investigate what may have caused these complaints to occur in the first place. By finding the primary cause of the complaint, we hope to eliminate the chance of it reoccurring in the future. The key to this is ergonomics.

Here are a few ways to prevent a tennis elbow:

  • Avoiding/dosing repetitive movements by taking regular breaks.
  • Stretching of the extensor muscles.
  • Increasing loadability of the extensor muscles.

These aspects will be used in the treatment of this pathology, as well as a variety of other techniques to ensure maximal effectiveness.

Do you or does someone you know suffer from this? Please contact Orthomedix and we would be happy to help you.

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