Elbow and wrist pain – How Physio Treatment helps

Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) & Extensor Tenosynovitis of the Wrist

Lateral Epicondylitis and extensor tenosynovitis are common overuse forearm and wrist injuries. They can affect anyone, although they tend to affect people who do repetitive tasks. Repetitive tasks include anything that you repeat for long periods of time. The smaller the movement, the quicker it can lead to ‘overload’, so something small like scrolling on your phone can irritate quickly!

You may have heard of ‘tennis elbow’ and ‘golfers elbow’ too. These are conditions affecting the elbow, and yes they do tend to occur in tennis players and golfers. These conditions can also affect people that don’t play these sports! If you have pain on the outside or inside of your elbow, you may have Lateral epicondylitis AKA ‘tennis elbow’, or Medial epicondylitis AKA ‘golfers elbow’.

We often treat elbow and wrist pain in chefs, landscapers, bricklayers, office workers, childcare educators and the staff that work at ice cream shops! All that ice cream scooping can be really challenging to wrists and elbows

These conditions can occur at any time, but generally can be linked with a change in the amount of doing the task. This might be when you start a new role, change the role you’re doing, or the demands of the role change. Sometimes the amount you’re doing of that task doesn’t change, but there’s other contributing factors such as fatigue or stress.

What is lateral epicondylitis?

Lateral epicondylitis (also known as tennis elbow) is characterised by pain on the outside of the elbow, and upper forearm pain and tenderness. It is a condition where there is irritation, with subsequent inflammation and degeneration of the forearm extensor muscles and tendon at its bony attachment to the outer elbow. These group of muscles at the back of the forearm act to extend the wrist and fingers.

elbow wrist pain Glenelg

What is extensor tenosynovitis?

Wrist extensor tenosynovitis associated with pain, swelling, and crepitus with motion of the involved tendons in the wrist and hand. It is a relatively common overuse condition which may affect one or more wrist tendons.

What causes these injuries?

During contraction of the wrist or forearm muscles, tension is placed through the tendons. When this tension is excessive due to too much repetition or high force, irritation to the tendons may occur. Extensor tenosynovitis is a condition whereby there is irritation, with subsequent inflammation and degeneration to one or more of the wrist tendons.

This is different to lateral epicondylitis as it affects the extensor tendon near its attachment to the lateral epicondyle of the elbow. These conditions are usually due to gradual wear and tear associated with overuse.

Why are these conditions common?

Many of our day to day tasks can be repetitive, whether it’s working at the computer for a whole day, or working hard paving an outdoor area. These injuries tend to arise when the task overloads the persons capacity. In some cases, the task is out of the ordinary (e.g. spending your weekend gardening, when you don’t normally do this much), and your body is not conditioned to so much time in the garden.

In other cases, where the task is familiar, and you perform it often, the injury can come from fatigue, or a slow decline in strength over many months. Our bodies are excellent at adapting to what we do regularly. Our strength in any area of the body is continually adapting, so suit what we need

If you don’t use it, you lose it!

For many people that don’t do specific strength or gym training, their strength with gradually reduce until it matches the required strength for their work. This is where the problem can arise, as the demands of the job can sneak above the capacity of the worker.

What can I do to prevent these injuries?

The key to prevention of extensor tenosynovitis is:

  • Stretching
  • forearm muscles regularly before and after training or work
  • Keep the wrist and forearm warm on cold training days.
  • Building strength through your trunk, shoulder, forearm and wrist
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Physio treatment for forearm pain

Elbow and wrist pain – How Physio Treatment helps

What can I do if I have elbow or wrist pain?

A Physiotherapy Assessment is a good place to start. This will identify where the issue is coming from, so treatment can be targeted and effective.

Initially treatment involves rest and forearm stretches. In many cases you will need physiotherapy treatment, including massage, dry needling and taping to help recovery. Occasionally the use of a wrist splint can help and anti-inflammatory medication. Conservative physiotherapy management can generally provide relief in 2 to 6 weeks.

Treatment may vary from person to person, depending on the current work load, timeframe of current symptoms, and current strength level. Some injuries can take longer to heal when an injury has been there for a longer timeframe.

Are you having trouble with wrist or forearm pain?

Book in to see one of our Physios at Aspire to be fully assessed. We can commence treatment immediately to ease your pain. Find out what you specifically need to do to overcome your symptoms. You can book online here.