Tennis elbow and golfers elbow are two common injuries that we treat at Takapuna Physio.
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Tennis elbow, (or lateral epicondylagia in medical terms) is a tendon problem that affects the outside of the elbow. It is thought that small tears develop in the tendon because the tendon is not strong enough to withstand the loads that are put through it. Due to this repeated stress the tendon does not heal properly. In most cases this happens slowly and is an overuse type problem as opposed to a sudden injury. Eventually the tendon becomes unhealthy, and develops scar tissue. The elbow may or may not be inflamed. Often you may not even be a tennis player, and it can be caused by repetitive movements at work such as hammering nails, or even typing or using a mouse.
The first goal of treatment is to settle down the symptoms. This may involve joint mobilisation, massage, acupuncture and stretching exercises. Taping or a brace may help to offload the tendon. If it is inflamed then anti-inflammatory medications can help. Once you can tolerate some strengthening exercises your physio will ask you to do regular specific exercises to strengthen the tendon. This is very important, as it was weakness that caused the problem in the first place. You may also need to address the issues around the aggravating activities, such as improving the ergonomics of your workstation if typing makes it worse, or changing the grip on your tennis racquet if you are a tennis player.
Golfers elbow (or medial epicondylalgia in medical terms) is the same type of problem as tennis elbow, but affects the tendon on the inside of the elbow rather than the outside. It is less common than tennis elbow but treatment principles and injury processes are the same.