With Wimbledon heating up and building towards the finals this weekend we thought we’d throw a spotlight on the injury that’s so identified with the sport that it takes its name from it – tennis elbow. While tennis players suffer quite commonly with the condition, they’re perhaps not as susceptible to the injury as golfers, bizarrely enough.
Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is an inflammation of the outer aspect of the elbow, due to repetitive overuse of the forearm muscles. Typically it’s the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) tendon that is injured. This muscle travels from the middle metacarpal to the outside of the elbow.
Diagnosis of the injury is made by a chartered physiotherapist who will assess your wrist strength and attempt to provoke your symptoms. There is typically point tenderness to touch on the outside aspect of the elbow. This helps us discern lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) from medial epicondylitis (commonly called golfer’s elbow). The injury is successfully treated with a combination of soft tissue techniques, wrist and forearm stretches and wrist strengthening exercises.
When the injury occurs in tennis players it’s often advisable to identify biomechanical factors which may be predisposing you to the condition. Often tautness of racket strings or length of racket can have an impact. Unfortunately, once you suffer with tennis elbow, there is a tendency for it to re-occur unless treated correctly and predisposing biomechanical factors are identified and remedied.