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What is Tennis Elbow?

Do you have to play tennis to get tennis elbow? 

No! In fact only a small percentage of people who are diagnosed with tennis elbow actually play tennis! And the vast majority develop it from lots of other day-to-day tasks. I am currently seeing lots of this at the moment with people getting out in the garden. Picture this, you have a backyard full of pruning that you’ve been putting off and you decide this is the weekend you’re going to get it all done, and after hours using the secateurs, you have developed pain in your elbow. Does this sound like you? Well then, you are more than likely beginning to suffer from a case of tennis elbow.

So what actually is tennis elbow, and why might you get it?

Tennis elbow occurs when the tendons of the muscles that control our wrist movement become irritated. It can be due to an acute overload of these muscles or unaccustomed load (load that the muscles aren’t used to), which is the case in the example above. The pain is usually located on the outside of your elbow and can be tender in one specific spot, or can refer further down your forearm. Activities such as gripping and lifting may be painful.

When you see a Physiotherapist they will ask a variety of questions and complete a range of tests such as wrist movements, muscle length tests and even accurately assess your grip strength to determine if you are in fact suffering from tennis elbow.

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Once you’ve been diagnosed with tennis elbow, I’m sure the key question you’re asking is what do I need to do to fix it

Together with your Physio, you will determine suitable ways to be able to decrease and modify the activities that you complete which aggravate your elbow pain. For example, this may include only pruning the roses for 30 minutes at a time, or changing the way you hold your tennis racquet. Over the course of your treatment the amount of time that you are able to complete these activities pain free will increase! 

Treatment typically includes soft tissue massage and stretching of the affected muscles, dry needling (should needles not freak you out) and taping of your elbow joint, which can provide instant pain reduction! Your physio will also provide you with an individualised exercise program to increase the load that your muscles are able to tolerate, with the goal being to get you back to your normal activities as soon as possible!

If any of the above speaks to you and you would like to receive a free handout, click the HANDOUT button below and we will email it through to you. Or if you’d like to have your elbow pain assessed by a professional, then come in and see one of our friendly physios here at Midland Physiotherapy 9274 1482.

Midland Physiotherapist Susan Kingston

Georgia Read


Georgia is a graduate of Curtin University with a Masters of Physiotherapy.  With a sports, exercise and health science background, she combines both hands-on manual therapy and exercise rehabilitation to assist patients in achieving their individual goals. Georgia has previously worked as a sports trainer for an amateur football club and has a passion for treating sporting injuries.

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