What is Tennis Elbow
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondyle Tendinopathy) effects the outside of the elbow and is a degenerative condition that is caused by overuse. Some people may experience pain to both sides of the elbow (bilateral) when gripping is involved, this can impact day to day activities.
Tendinopathy commonly known as Tendinitis/Tendonitis, is a tendon disorder that can cause pain and swelling to an area. The pain will often worsen with movement and will also impair the function.
Risk factors may include but not limited to:
- Manual work;
- Repetitive loading of the wrist extensors;
- Smoking; and
- Tennis players like the name suggests are high risk.
Some surprising Statistics
While round 90% of individuals are self-limiting, not everyone will experience a full recovery. Some individuals will continue to have discomfort present for up to a year and recurrence is common. A staggering 72% will opt to have a corticosteroid injection whereas a much lower 9% will allow the body to heal natural with the guidance and support of a trained professional, like a GP. Approx. Only about 5% need to go further and have surgery.
Now that we have a better understanding of what Tennis Elbow is. What could you expect when you get it assessed by a trained professional? It is important to communicate with your therapist as they will probably ask you several questions for e.g. What activities precipitate or exacerbate your pain?
The most common way to assess Tennis Elbow is for pain provoking tests. This may include such tests as Cozen’s Test, Mill’s Test, the Maudsley’s Test and/or the client might also be asked to grip onto an object.
Range Of Motion (ROM) assessment should also be conducted of the elbow, wrist and forearm to identify any other potential restrictions or stiffness. Any dysfunctions should also be noted such as but not limited to clicking or a lack/loss of control. Palpation (therapist feeling) will also be a part of your assessment and the therapist will be looking for tightness, tenderness, pain and even heat.
How can Massage help with Tennis Elbow?
Treatments for repetitive strain injuries often call for a soft-tissue experts, a massage therapist that is extensively trained will possess the skill set to tackle this task. During the examination stage your therapist will be assessing the level of tenderness and/or pain along with any other dysfunctions. This could be from your shoulder down and this will guide your therapist in creating your unique treatment plan. Your therapist might use a variety of techniques to treat Tennis Elbow among them could be Myofascial Release (MFR), Trigger Point Release (TPR), Cross-Fibre Friction and/or Petrissage to list a few.
Massage therapy for Tennis Elbow will often involves what therapists like to call therapeutic discomfort. It is when your therapist will adjust the pressure throughout your treatment to ensure you are ok and the discomfort is kept to a tolerable pain. Your therapist should ask you while massaging the area where your pain is at between 1 and 10, this should not go above an 8. Otherwise too much pressure is being added to the area.
Self-care is an extremely important part of a successful treatment and your therapist will be there to help and assist in giving you all the information you need. You can complement your massage for Tennis Elbow by applying heat or cold packs and/or creams such as Tiger Balm. Your therapist may also give you light stretching exercises to do daily.
If you feel discomfort or pain, you should always go see your GP. Any of the information in this blog is subject to change due to but not limited by, further research or new statistics. A massage therapist cannot diagnose a condition and can only facilitate healing, not fix or cure.