What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a painful condition that occurs where the extensor tendons are attached to the one in your elbow. It occurs when they are overloaded, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm.
You may notice pain:
- on the outside of your upper forearm, just below the bend of your elbow
- when lifting or bending your arm
- when twisting your forearm, such as turning a door handle or opening a jar
Causes of Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is usually caused by overusing the muscles attached to your elbow and used to straighten your wrist. If the muscles and tendons are strained, tiny tears and inflammation can develop near the bony lump (the lateral epicondyle) on the outside of your elbow.
As the name suggests, playing tennis — especially repeated use of the backhand stroke with poor technique — is one possible cause of tennis elbow. However, tennis is not necessary the only sport that can cause it, in fact, any racket sports can cause this condition.
Risk Factors of Tennis Elbow
Factors that may increase your risk of tennis elbow include:
While tennis elbow affects people of all ages, it’s most common in adults between the ages of 30 and 50.
People who have jobs that involve repetitive motions of the wrist and arm are more likely to develop tennis elbow. Examples include plumbers, painters, carpenters, butchers and cooks.
• Certain sports
Participating in racket sports increases your risk of tennis elbow, especially if you employ poor stroke technique.
Treatments for Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow often gets better on its own but recurs if the activity is restarted. If over the counter pain medications and other self-care measures aren’t helping, your doctor may suggest physiotherapy and shockwave therapy.
Also, strategies to reduce the force transmission of rackets forces may be advised. Only in severe cases of tennis elbow may require surgery.
Surgery is an uncommon option and most times only suggested in recalcitrant and chronic conditions which have failed other treatment options.
May be recommended in more severe and persistent cases. Massaging and manipulating the affected area may help relieve the pain and stiffness, and improve the range of movement in your arm.
A physical therapist can teach you exercises to gradually stretch and strengthen your muscles, especially the muscles of your forearm. Eccentric exercises, which involve lowering your wrist very slowly after raising it, are particularly helpful. A forearm strap or brace may reduce stress on the injured tissue.
Shockwave therapy is another modality in which the physiotherapist may utilize to expedite the healing process in lateral epicondylitis.
Injections of platelet-rich plasma, into the painful tendon, may improve the healing process of the diseased tendon.
If your symptoms haven’t improved after six to 12 months of extensive nonoperative treatment, you may be a candidate for surgery to release the damaged tissue. The rationale behind the procedure is to release the tension on the tendon attachment. These types of procedures can be performed through a large incision or through several small incisions. Rehabilitation exercises are crucial to recovery.
How to Alleviate Tennis Elbow Symptoms
- Limit use and rest the arm from activities that worsen symptoms.
- Splints or braces may be ordered to decrease stress on the injured tissues.
- Apply ice packs on the elbow to reduce swelling.
- Avoid activities that bring on the symptoms and increase stress on the tendons.
- Anti-inflammatory medications and/or steroid injections may be ordered to treat pain and swelling.
- Physical therapy may be ordered for strengthening and stretching exercises to the forearm once your symptoms have decreased.
- Pulsed ultrasound may be utilized to increase blood flow and promote healing to the injured tendons. (Shockwave therapy)
If your tennis elbow persists and you are seeking professional advice, book a consultation appointment with us at Spire Orthopedics. You may reach us at our Contact Page or call (HP Number).