Can physiotherapy help with tennis elbow
Updated: Mar 17
Can tennis elbow be fixed? Read on to see how physiotherapy can help.
Tennis elbow is a slightly misleading name. For one thing, it doesn’t just impact the elbow; the tennis elbow can often also be felt in the forearm and wrist. Secondly, you don’t just get it from playing tennis. Many different repetitive wrist and arm motions can result in a person suffering from tennis elbow.
However, if you’re suffering from tennis elbow, the causes can seem trivial and academic; you just want it to stop as soon as possible! There are countless cases of physiotherapy being able to help with tennis elbow. With the right treatment from a qualified physiotherapist, you can recover from the tennis elbow more quickly and effectively.
A good physio can help with your tennis elbow. Get in touch with our team at Align Health Collective and we will start you on the road to recovery.
What is tennis elbow?
The official medical name for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis. It is a condition where the tendons (the tissues that connect muscle to bone) of the elbow become overloaded after repetitive motions.
Tennis elbow is a common problem for, as the name suggests, tennis players, but many other people suffer from it as well. If you notice ongoing discomfort in your elbow, this may be an indication that you’re suffering from tennis elbow.
Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and weakness. People who have tennis elbow might notice that it becomes difficult to do things like:
Hold things, even light things like a cup of coffee
Grip objects — holding a phone or shaking hands can be challenging
Tasks like turning on a tap or a doorknob
Does physio help tennis elbow?
Physiotherapy has been shown to have a positive impact on tennis elbow. In fact, physiotherapy can help tennis elbow recovery times, and get you back to health faster.
A physio might recommend treatment for tennis elbow that includes things like:
Physiotherapy treatment for tennis elbow
When it comes to treating tennis elbow, physiotherapy is often the first line of defense. This non-invasive treatment option is designed to reduce pain and inflammation, improve range of motion, and promote healing in the affected area.
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
Before we delve into the various physiotherapy treatment options, it's important to understand the symptoms of tennis elbow. The most common symptom is pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, which can sometimes radiate down the forearm. The pain is usually exacerbated by gripping or lifting objects, and can be especially painful during certain activities, such as playing tennis or typing on a computer keyboard for extended periods.
Diagnosis of Tennis Elbow
To diagnose tennis elbow, your physiotherapist will perform a physical examination and may also order imaging studies such as an x-ray or MRI. During the physical examination, your physiotherapist will assess your range of motion, strength, and any pain or tenderness in the affected area. Imaging studies may be ordered to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
Treatment Options for Tennis Elbow
Once diagnosed, there are several treatment options available for tennis elbow. Physiotherapy techniques are often used to reduce pain, improve function, and promote healing. Some of the most common physiotherapy techniques used to treat tennis elbow include:
Massage: Massage therapy can help reduce muscle tension and promote healing in the affected area.
Stretching: Stretching exercises can help improve range of motion and flexibility, and can also help reduce pain.
Exercise: Specific exercises can help strengthen the forearm muscles and improve overall function.
Dry Needling: A form of acupuncture, dry needling involves the insertion of thin needles into trigger points in the affected muscles to promote healing.
Corticosteroid Injections: In severe cases, corticosteroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
Surgery: In rare cases where other treatment options have failed, surgery may be recommended to repair or remove damaged tissue.
Benefits of physiotherapy for tennis elbow
Physiotherapy can provide numerous benefits to individuals suffering from tennis elbow. Whether you are an athlete or a manual laborer, physiotherapy can help alleviate pain, restore function, and prevent further injury. Here are some of the main benefits of physiotherapy for tennis elbow:
Pain Relief and Reduction of Inflammation
One of the primary benefits of physiotherapy for tennis elbow is pain relief. Physiotherapists use a variety of techniques to reduce pain and inflammation in the affected area. This can include massage, stretching, exercise, and dry needling. Unlike medication-based treatments, physiotherapy can provide long-term pain relief without the risk of adverse side effects.
Restoring Functionality and Range of Motion
Tennis elbow can cause a range of motion restrictions and loss of strength in the affected arm. However, physiotherapy can help restore functionality and range of motion through a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises. By improving flexibility and strength in the affected area, physiotherapy can help individuals regain their ability to perform daily activities without pain or discomfort.
Injury Prevention and Management
Physiotherapy can also help prevent further injury and manage acute and chronic stages of tennis elbow. By identifying contributing factors such as poor ergonomics or improper techniques, a physiotherapist can develop a treatment plan that includes load management strategies and exercises to help prevent recurrence of tennis elbow. Furthermore, physiotherapy can help manage pain during acute and chronic stages of the condition, allowing individuals to continue with their daily activities while minimizing discomfort.
Physiotherapy techniques for tennis elbow
Physiotherapy involves a range of techniques that aim to reduce pain, promote healing, and restore functionality in individuals with tennis elbow. Here are some of the most commonly used physiotherapy techniques for tennis elbow:
Manual Therapy and Mobilization
Manual therapy and mobilization are two techniques that involve the use of hands-on techniques to improve movement and reduce pain. Manual therapy involves using the hands to manipulate the muscles and soft tissues in the affected area, while mobilization involves the use of graded movements to improve joint mobility. These techniques can be effective in reducing pain, improving range of motion, and restoring normal function to the affected area.
Specific Exercises to Optimize Tennis Elbow Recovery
Specific exercises can help improve strength and flexibility in the forearm muscles, reducing pain and preventing further injury. These exercises can be tailored to the individual's needs, depending on their level of pain, strength, and range of motion. Physiotherapists may use exercises such as wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, and eccentric exercises to help alleviate tennis elbow symptoms.
Load Management Strategies
Load management strategies involve identifying and modifying activities that may contribute to the development or exacerbation of tennis elbow symptoms. A physiotherapist may work with the individual to develop a tailored plan that includes modifications to daily activities, exercises to improve strength and flexibility, and advice on proper ergonomics and techniques.
In addition to the techniques mentioned above, physiotherapists may also use dry needling, taping, and electrotherapy to help reduce pain and promote healing in individuals with tennis elbow.
Choosing a Physiotherapist for Tennis Elbow Treatment
When it comes to choosing a physiotherapist for tennis elbow treatment, it's important to select an experienced professional who specializes in musculoskeletal conditions. A qualified physiotherapist should have experience working with individuals who suffer from tennis elbow and should be able to develop a tailored treatment plan that meets the individual's specific needs.
Does tennis elbow fix itself?
Sometimes, the tennis elbow can alleviate all by itself. In cases where the damage to the tendon is minor, and where you’re able to rest, avoiding doing anything to aggravate the tendons, you may find that the tennis elbow gets better in a matter of days or weeks.
However, the area and movements that the tennis elbow affects make it a particularly tricky area to rest. People with pets or children, or people who must perform physical labour as part of their job, might find it especially hard to abstain from movements that aggravate the tendons.
In these instances, hastening the recovery process with a visit to the physiotherapist is especially helpful.
Do I need surgery for tennis elbow?
There is surgery available for tennis elbow. In what is often a keyhole surgery, the damaged tendon is removed. This alleviates pain and allows for improved mobility. The outcomes can be positive, but like any surgery, there are risks being managed and considered.
The good news is that, usually, surgery is not necessary for treating tennis elbow. Most of the time, a physio is the best course of action. If pain persists for several months, or if the injury is of a nature that would require further attention, a physiotherapist will be able to advise you of the best treatment and specialists to deal with your tennis elbow.
Think you might be suffering from tennis elbow? Recover more quickly with assistance from a qualified physiotherapist. Get in contact with our team at Align Health Collective, and we can start accelerating your recovery ASAP.