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Physiotherapy For Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)


The backhand swing in tennis can strain the muscles and tendon of the elbow leading to tennis elbow symptoms. However, tennis elbow is not limited to tennis players can be the result of many other repetitive activities including mousing, keyboarding, carrying bags, manual work, or using a variety of tools around the house. In the clinic, we see a lot of tennis elbow in people after they have participated in an activity that they are unaccustomed to such as a new sport/hobby.


Tennis elbow affects the outside bump of the elbow, called the lateral epicondyle. The forearm muscles that bend the wrist back (the extensors) blend into what is known as the common extensor tendon that attach onto the lateral epicondyle. If you have pain to touch over the lateral epicondyle, pain with gripping, and pain while bending the wrist backwards, there is a chance you have tennis elbow.


In an acute injury, the body undergoes an inflammatory response where special inflammatory cells make their way to the injured tissue to help the healing process. However, tennis elbow does not always involve inflammation. Instead, the tendon will undergo cellular and matrix changes due to an acute injury, or repetitive load, or new load, which we call tendinopathy. This will lead to changes in pain, sensation, and strength/motor control of the hand/wrist.


After completing a through assessment, your physiotherapist will provide you with an accurate diagnosis of your injury and a recovery plan for your injury. They will highlight all the major milestones and timelines that you will go through during your recovery plan. Recovery plans will constitute of these major phases:

  1. Pain control and restoring range of motion
  2. Specific strengthening of the local structures
  3. Optimising biomechanics and graded global strengthening
  4. Advanced strengthening/return to sport

Your recovery plan and treatment will always be individualised and tailored for your needs. It will highlight all the above phases but the timing and order may vary.

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