What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is the inflammation or micro tearing of the tendons that combine the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. It is also called lateral epicondylitis. When the tendons and the forearm muscles sustain damage due to repetition of the same motion over and over again, it causes the outside of the elbow to become tender and painful. Any kind of repetitive motion such as using tools or painting can cause the symptoms.
Athletes get the symptoms more often, but people participating in recreational activities requiring repetitive use of forearm muscles can also feel pain. So, repeating certain arm movements may worsen the pain. The dull ache usually turns to constant pain. In several cases, the elbow may feel excessive pain to touch.
Tennis elbow is the inflammation or micro tearing of the tendons that combine the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. It is also called lateral epicondylitis.
The condition causes tenderness and pain on the outside of the elbow. Pain in the forearm and the back of the hand are common. The pain in people with this condition ranges from a minor nagging discomfort when using the elbow to severe pain when the elbow stays still. Using the arm for twisting and repetitive movements, such as extending or gripping the wrist, worsens the pain. The pain is more prominent.
The condition can last for about six months or a couple of years, but most people recover within a year.
Overuse of the forearm due to a repeated or strenuous activity causes pain. Knocking or banging the elbow may also show symptoms. Due to strained forearm muscles, inflammation develops near the lateral epicondyle or on the outside of the elbow. An unusual activity such as decoration or gardening involving repeated use of the forearm muscles can also lead to the development of pain. The following activities can also stress the forearm muscles due to bending and twisting.
Playing with a racquet increases the chance of developing the condition, especially for beginners.
When the pain does not reduce within two weeks, a physical therapist needs to diagnose the condition appropriately to rule out the other causes, such as cervical or neural. The therapist assesses the condition thoroughly to determine the muscle functions and joints and recommends suitable measures to improve blood flow to the tendons. Initially, the therapist recommends ice massage, using wearables like braces, straps, and tape for massage, muscle stimulation, and ultrasound. The therapeutic exercises are:
The risks of tennis elbow are:
While the condition can affect people of varied age groups, it is common in adults aged thirty and fifty. People with occupations requiring repetitive wrist arm motion are more at risk such as painters, butchers, plumbers, carpenters, and cooks.
The steps to prevent the condition are:
The condition may not require treatment but taking OTC pain relievers may ease the pain. When symptoms relate to playing sports, physiotherapy may be essential. The therapists suggest suitable techniques of holding racquets and the steps to consider avoiding stressing the injured tissue. Stretching and strengthening exercises involving the forearm muscles are beneficial. Eccentric exercises like lowering the wrist gradually may also help.
Lateral epicondylitis is caused due to damage in the forearm muscles and overuse in sports. While racquet games are known to aggravate the condition, several other sports or physical activities that may cause the symptoms to worsen. Consulting a professional physical therapist is the best choice.