• Clare Lewey

Physiotherapy Treatment for Tennis Elbow


Physiotherapy Treatment for Tennis Elbow

What is Tennis Elbow?


Tennis elbow is usually an overload/overuse injury and is not necessarily caused only by racquet sports. It is a painful condition affecting the tendon attached to the muscles on the outside of the forearm. These muscles are active during gripping and moving the wrist upwards.


Pain occurs near where the tendon joins the bone, just above the outside of the elbow and can radiate down the forearm and even up into the upper arm. It usually becomes painful because of an overload or repetitive action from certain activities causing changes in the quality of the tendon tissue.


Common causes of Tennis Elbow


Tennis elbow is commonly seen in tennis players, hence the name. Poor technique or the wrong grip or string tension may increase the likelihood of developing this condition. Any recreational or occupational activity that involves the repetitive use and loading of forearm muscles, however, can result in tennis elbow: even sewing or knitting or DIY.


Common causes can include:


  • Improper technique / poor equipment in racquet sports

  • Continuous use of hand tools such as a screwdriver or spanner

  • Lifting heavy weight objects

  • Weak muscles of in the forearm


Occupational activity where tennis elbow can become an issue is often seen among painters, carpenters, plumbers, gardeners, weavers, butchers, and typists.


Treatment of Tennis Elbow


Mild cases of tennis elbow can usually be managed with conservative treatment. Surgery is a last option for cases of severe pain and, but injection therapy is not uncommon.


No one treatment is successful for everyone, which makes tennis elbow a frustration for patients. Fortunately, tennis elbow is a self-limiting condition, which means it will usually recover gradually in most cases, although this can be quite slow. There are treatments which may hasten recovery and return to sport or regular activity:


  • Limit the use and rest the arm from activities that worsen symptoms

  • Physiotherapy treatment combined with a rehabilitation exercise programme involving graded loading designed by a physiotherapist can help reduce and resolve pain, to strengthen forearm muscles and to normalise the tendon tissue.

  • Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy is a mode of therapeutic treatment for soft tissue injuries. Shockwave therapy is proven to be effective in the treatment of tennis elbow, stimulating blood flow, cell regeneration and promoting healing in the tendon tissue. The shockwaves cause controlled trauma/inflammatory response, which enhances the healing capacity of the body, decreasing pain therefore helping restore normal movement and function.

  • Elbow straps, braces or splints may be used to support the elbow and minimize the stress on the damaged tendons and muscles.

  • Medications such as pain killers and anti-inflammatories can help improve symptoms and enable rehabilitation.

  • Cortisone and other injection therapy can potentially have side effects and should only be considered in persistent cases where rehabilitation alone has failed. They relieve pain by reducing inflammation or by stimulating a healing response. They should be combined with a rehabilitation programme to achieve a lasting result.

  • Ice and acupuncture can provide short term relief in some cases.


For further information on any of the treatments mentioned in this article, or to discuss treatment for your tennis elbow, please contact Cotswold Physiotherapy on 01993 201485 or send your enquiry here