Tennis elbow is an overuse tendinopathy of the common extensor tendon which attaches into the outside of the elbow joint. As high as 50% of all tennis players will suffer from the condition at some stage in their playing careers. Novice tennis players taking up the game are thought to be most at risk due to poor playing technique. In particular tennis players who perform the single handed backhand stroke with a leading elbow will typically contact the ball late with the wrist in a flexed and weakened position predisposing them to the condition. Other common causes include lack of strength in the muscles of the wrist/forearm and the use of inappropriate equipment (see section on tennis equipment below).
Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain on the outside of the elbow which may or may not refer down the forearm into the hand. Pain is aggravated by gripping the racket and on impacting the ball. The extensor tendon is usually tender to press at the point of its attachment into the outside of the elbow.
Treatment of tennis elbow usually involves a period of rest or modified play whilst addressing any factors that may have caused or predisposed the player to developing the condition. Hands on manual therapy to address any muscle tightness or joint stiffness may be used in combination with other treatment modalities (dry needling, Laser, heat therapy) to help reduce pain and aid healing. The cornerstone of any tennis elbow treatment plan will involve a progressive strengthening and stretching program to address any weakness and inflexibilities in the elbow and forearm helping to rebuild the tendon and reduce the risk of future reoccurrence.