Tennis Elbow, or common extensor tendinopathy is a common disorder involving pain and inflammation of the back side of the forearm just below the elbow (figure 1). Tennis elbow is also interchangeable with common extensor tendonitis, and both are actually misnomers. Most people who have this issue don’t actually play tennis. Conditions that end in -itis basically means irritation or inflammation and is usually limited to the first few days of the actual pathology. Tendinopathy is a better umbrella term as it covers that actual issue in tennis elbow which is tendinosis (break down or degeneration of the tendon).
As mentioned before, this condition is common impacting 1-3% of the population and usually resolves itself within a year with a wait and see approach. A year of wait and see is a long time for pain in the forearm and elbow, especially in today’s society of handheld devices and computer use. Most people impacted are working age 20-65 years old with a majority of those people aged 40-50 without a gender bias (Renerr Keijsers, 2018).
For those that do play tennis and develop this issue, mechanics and faulty swinging are usually at fault for causing the repetitive motions that develop the tendon break down. A more accurate term for tennis elbow is common extensor tendinosis. Tendinosis describes a general degeneration of the tendon itself in which the cells that are present are not proliferating into the cells they were intended to become (Renerr Keijsers, 2018).
Some debate exists about the use of short term splints or braces for the forearm, however the treatment of common extensor tendinosis almost always involves rest of the tendon and from the aggravating factor for several weeks, stretching, and exercise. Some research suggests there is no significant difference between using a splint in conjunction with phyiotherapy or physiotherapy alone, however those that do use a splint feel less pain and have better outcomes (Shaji J. KACHANATHU, 2019).
As always, for the best possible outcomes visit your trusted physiotherapist for a tailored approach and rehabilitation to reduce pain and maximize your return to function!
Renerr Keijsers, R.-J. d.-J. (2018). Tennis Elbow. Shoulder & Elbow, 11(5), 384-392.
Shaji J. KACHANATHU, A. M. (2019). Comparrison of the effects of short-duration wrist joint splinting combined with physical therapy and physical therapy alone on the management of pateints with lateral epicondylitis. European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 55(4), 488-493.