Lateral elbow pain, also referred to as Tennis Elbow, Lateral Epicondylalgia or Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy, is characterised as pain over the outer elbow with loading of the wrist extensor muscles during gripping, lifting and twisting activities.
40% of people will experience Lateral Elbow pain at some stage in their life. Lateral elbow pain is a common presentation in both men and women typically between the ages of 35 and 54 years of age, and affects 1-3% of the general population.
Over 50% of patients attending general practice for their elbow pain report not being recovered at 12 months.
Risk factors include smoking, manual labour, prolonged computer work or repetitive gripping tasks, racquet sports, throwing or lifting weights.
Common causes of Lateral Elbow Pain include lack of flexibility in the wrist and forearm muscles, improper technique during sport, sudden changes in activity or training loads.
Taking a detailed history with a focus on any changes to activity or training loads, as well as identifying any physical or psychosocial stressors to the upper limb such as spikes in activity or training loads, changes in equipment with sport/work/domestic or improper use of them, trauma or repetitive forces on the upper limb.
A thorough physical examination is then performed to classify the injury in-terms of the likely contributions from the common extensor origin (CEO) tendons, gleno-humeral and superior radio-ulnar joints, radial nerve and the interosseous tunnel, and contributions from the kinetic chain – ether the wrist/hand complex or higher up from the shoulder and scapulo-thoracic region.
Goals and Expectations are discussed and a management plan is established together.
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