Understanding Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy: Insights into Tennis Elbow

Written by Chris Wiid on 12 June 2024

What is Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy?

Experiencing discomfort on the outside of your elbow? This might be a sign of an overuse injury referred to as Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy—often known as 'Tennis Elbow' among the public. While its association with tennis is widely recognised, this condition isn't confined solely to athletes.

The Anatomy Behind the Pain

Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy is understood to be a degenerative alteration in the tendon's structure—not simply an inflammation. It involves the tendons attached to the muscles responsible for extending and stabilising the wrist, including the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis, Extensor Carpi Ulnaris, Extensor Digitorum, and Extensor Digiti Minimi.

Recognising the Signs and Symptoms

Are you feeling pain on the outer part of your elbow, especially when moving your wrist or gripping objects? Common signs of Lateral Elintented-keep Elbow Tendinopathy include:

  • Sharp discomfort outside the elbow, aggravated by wrist movement or gripping.
  • Pain typically intensifies in the morning or after activities that strain the elbow.
  • An initial 'warm-up' effect where the pain seems to diminish during tasks but resurfaces afterwards.

Who is at Risk?

Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy can strike anyone but is particularly common in:

  • Adults engaging in new activities that require gripping, such as tennis, golf, or gardening.
  • Those spending extended periods lifting heavy objects—weighing over 4.5 kilograms.
  • Individuals both male and female, with an equivalent likelihood of developing the condition.
  • Adults over the age of 40, who are more susceptible to tendon degeneration.

Finding Relief: Effective Treatment Options

Recent studies highlight the success of managed exercises done within a person's threshold for pain, aiding in the alleviation of discomfort and fortification of impacted muscles and tendons. Evidence from 2022 also endorses:

  • Physiotherapy-led manual therapy.
  • Joint mobilisations to enhance the capacity for exercise alongside diminished pain levels.
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