Here at the Melbourne Sports Medicine Centre we are keenly following the Olympics and are noting the high loads that many sports such as gymnastics place on the upper limb joints in particular. Shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries are far too common for elite athletes, but what about our everyday clients? The most common elbow condition we see presents with lateral elbow pain, this is usually lateral epicondylalgia, often known as “tennis elbow”. Despite being commonly associated with tennis this lateral elbow pain may not have necessarily be related to picking up a tennis racquet. It may be a consequence of a specific injury event, sporting activity or general lifestyle influences. Excessive strain on the lateral elbow may result from activities involving repetitive or forceful grasping or even from poor working postures adopted whilst undertaking repetitive tasks like using a mouse or keyboard.
Traditionally lateral elbow pain can be quite stubborn and challenging to overcome. Fortunately, as more medical research becomes available to us as health professionals, our practices and the way we approach treating these conditions has evolved and become more effective.
Following a thorough examination using recorded strength measures and clinical tests we can provide an individualised treatment regime. Whilst the pain is located laterally, generally involving the extensor muscles and tendons, it is often most beneficial to address the excessive tightness and shortening that occurs in the opposite muscle group, the flexors, stemming from the poor postures that many people adopt. Treatment often involves a combination of specific soft tissue therapies, joint mobilisation, strengthening and stretches of both the shoulder and elbow. Strengthening exercises may initially be mostly static, progressing to through range and may involve the recruitment of the deep stabilising muscles. This approach aims to optimise upper limb movement patterns and correct postural deficits, targeting the underlying cause of the condition. Addressing the underlying causes can provide long term beneficial outcomes for clients who may have found their lateral elbow pain to be ongoing or recurring, providing them with a clear pathway towards recovery.
Physiotherapist, Stephanie Woodhouse, has a special interest in treating elbow conditions.
Stephanie works regularly with Victoria’s elite gymnasts, who unfortunately are at risk of developing upper limb injuries due to the extreme and repetitive nature of their sport. Her elite experience along with ongoing further education has her well placed to help you achieve an accurate diagnosis and effectively manage your elbow condition.
To arrange an appointment to see Stephanie, please phone 9650 9372 or book online.