Top tips on how to help tennis elbow pain.
Firstly, what are the symptoms of tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow pain is term used to describe a pain that is felt on the outside of the elbow. Tennis elbow pain can start off sharp and occasional and then gradually it can become very painful and limiting.
Often tennis elbow pain is worse in the mornings and also feels stiff to move the elbow. It starts off being painful in certain activities such as:
- Opening doors
- Lifting kettles or shopping
- Gripping heavy objects
- Carrying shopping
Tennis elbow pain normally is quite local, this means that you can point to exactly where it hurts.
What is Tennis elbow pain?
Where your funny bone is around your elbow you have a spot that is the attachment of a number of your muscles in the top of your forearm. These muscles are called your extensor muscles. Their job is to; turn the elbow (supination/pronation), the movement that you do when using a screw driver or turning a key, pull the wrist back (extension) as you would do when hitting with a tennis racket.
Where these muscles all meet and attach the tendon to the bone is the bony point on the side of the elbow (lateral epicondyle) and it is at this point that the pain occurs.
Why does the tendon hurt?
Usually the main reason most tendons complain with pain is when the muscles that are being used are working harder than they can cope with. So, take your muscles around your forearm, if you are doing a lot of repetitive movements with the forearm such as DIY at home, extra computer work, tennis, squash or badminton then when the muscles get over worked the tendon becomes painful. And this is the pain that you feel in the tendon. Normally however it comes on gradually and we only take note of it when it stops us from going about our day. Alternatively, it can suddenly come on if you decide you are going to spend two days picking out weeds in the garden or screwing pictures in the wall.
What can I do to reduce my tennis elbow pain?
Well, this answer depends on what stage you are at with the pain.
Let us say we are 3 different stages of Tennis Elbow Pain. So depending on which stage you are will depend on what you do.
STAGE 1: Irritable Tendon
In this stage the tendon maybe painful all the time, worse in the mornings and painful on most activities. The pain maybe anywhere from a 3/10-8/10.
In this stage you need to settle the tendon down by:
- Icing… research or not icing helps
- Massaging ibruprofen gel into the painful elbow
- Exercises to keep the wrist moving
- Use an epiclasp when in activity but not whilst doing your rehab exercises.
- Isometric holds on the elbow. Hold for 20sec repeat x3- 2-3 x per day
Once the tendon has settled a little this stage is all amount building up a resilience in the tendon. Once the pain is 2/10 on resisted wrist extension, then you can start to progress your exercises by using a 500ml water bottle.
Doing the exercises below 10)3 everyday and I mean EVERYDAY will make the impact.
MAKE SURE YOU USE THE GOLDEN RULE WHICH IS:
If its painful >2/10 during or after, then you are not ready for STAGE 2.
Wrist extension is the key exercise. Start it from a level position and then lift the wrist upwards. Do not progress unless it is painfree.
This stage the tendon may have settled well, it maybe this is all you need to get back to your activities but if you need to play tennis for example you will firstly need to:
- Increase the weights to 1kg
- Think about longer term maintenance (doing the exercises x2 per week as part of a continued programme)
- Strengthen your shoulder
- Use your wrist less in activity (change your technique)
- Using a gyro ball may also make the whole maintenance a bit more exciting!
If you need help with any of these stages and just aren’t progressing on your lonesome… Get in touch… We can help!