Tennis Elbow: an insight into elbow pain.

Do you feel a slight twinge at the outside portion of the upper arm, near the elbow, for this could be sign of tennis elbow or tendinitis of the lateral epicondyle. This condition is caused by continual small strains and microscopic tears of tissue near the elbow, resulting in inflammation and pain. Specifically, the tendon and muscles (especially the extensor carpi redialis muscle) that extend the wrist by bending your hand back, as if you were to push against the wall, are affected. It commonly occurs while playing tennis because of overextension of the wrist during a backhand stroke. But you do not have to play tennis to develop tennis elbow. You can cause lateral epicondylitis by wielding a hammer or other tool. It is the repeated motion over time that eventually causes the injury. This is why people who are in their forties and fifties are more likely to develop tennis elbow.

Tennis Elbow Symptoms

Patients with tennis elbow experience pain on the outside of the elbow that is worsened by grasping objects and cocking back the wrist. The most common symptoms of tennis elbow are:

  • Pain over the outside of the elbow

  • Pain when lifting objects

  • Pain radiating down the forearm

The pain associated with tennis elbow usually has a gradual onset, but it may also come on suddenly. Most patients with tennis elbow are between the ages of 35 and 65 years old, and it affects about an equal number of men and women. Tennis elbow occurs in the dominant arm in about 75 percent of people.

Therapeutic options for Tennis Elbow

  1. Treatment starts with rest, ice, and gentle stretching. Using a forearm (tennis elbow) band that slips around the upper forearm takes tension off of the elbow and can reduce discomfort.

  2. Pain can last from a few days to a few weeks. Occasionally, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen can be used. A cortisone injection can be helpful in some cases, but should be reserved for the persistent pain that last more than six weeks, and it must not be done more than three times. There always is a risk of tendon rupture and breakdown of surrounding tissues as a result of a cortisone injection. After the inflammation subsides, heat, massage, and ultrasound treatment by a physiotherapist can speed up the rehabilitation process.

  3. After the pain is relieved, it is important to prevent future recurrences of tennis elbow. This is first done by gently stretching the muscles and tendons of the forearm.