After reviewing about 15 studies on tennis elbow (lateral epicondylalgia), one thing is quite clear: there is no magic fix!
What is it?
Tennis elbow is a condition which produces pain at the point where the wrist extensors attach onto the upper arm. It is often associated with playing tennis, but can be a result of other activities such as gardening, lifting and twisting of the arm. Those who perform manual tasks with high levels of force, repetition and poor posture are at the most risk.
Originally it was believed to be an inflammatory process, but examination of the tendons consistently show an absence of inflammatory cells (hence the name change from epicondylitis to epicondylagia). Pain may be due to new blood vessels infiltrating the area due to a failed healing response, an increased concentration of pain chemicals, and disorganized collagen. Over time, there can be “pain system changes” (for example, a heightened sensitivity to pressure on the elbow and even on the other arm!)
What contributes to it?
Incorrect tension on racquet strings
Weak forearm muscles (reduced grip strength)
Overuse (increasing the amount you play too quickly)
Poor technique (wrist not extended enough among other things)
What is the treatment?
Change technique, change tension on strings
Relative rest: complete rest leads to weaker, unhealthier tendons whereas gentle exercise promotes new healthy collagen to form.
Tennis elbow brace: this is worn below the attachment of the muscles to the bone (below the painful spot) to take the stress off that point
Physiotherapy: there has been shown to be either decreased pain or increased function with the following: exercise therapy, mobilization, ultrasound, laser, acupuncture, and a few other treatments. There is no one treatment that will fix everyone. Often a combination of approaches is needed.