What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that develops when too much strain is placed upon the tendons within the elbow. This can be caused by repetitive movements in the arm and wrist.Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that develops when too much strain is placed upon the tendons within the elbow. This can be caused by repetitive movements in the arm and wrist.
Tennis elbow can often be managed with conservative treatment such as rest and over the counter medication, but in cases where this does not provide relief, surgery may be recommended.
Pain in the bony bump outside your elbow is the most common symptom. Usually, it evolves gradually over time and it may radiate from the elbow to the rest of your forearm. It is likely to be worsened when:
- Shaking and stretching hands
- Turning doorknobs
- Holding small objects
Tennis elbow appears as a consequence of overuse and repeated activity of your forearm, particularly activities that involved the use of a backhand stroke, as in tennis. These repeated motions can cause the muscles to develop tiny tears in the tendon that runs from your forearm to the bony lump on the elbow.
- Computer use
There are generally three main risk factors which can increase a person’s chance of developing tennis elbow:
Your doctor will begin by performing a physical examination. This will involve apply pressure to your elbow and forearm to check for tenderness and asking you to move your wrist and arm. Often, this examination along with reviewing your medical history will be enough to diagnose the condition. However, if your doctor suspects that something else may be causing your symptoms, they may suggest imaging tests such as x-rays or other types of scans.
Tennis elbow usually improves on its own. In most cases, self-care techniques can help to relieve symptoms.
- REST – stop any activities or movements that are causing pain
- OVER-THE-COUNTER PAIN RELIEF – such as an anti-inflammatory
- ICE – apply ice to the area for 15 minutes three to four times a day
- TECHNIQUE – ensure that during activities and sports, you are using the proper techniques and avoiding repetitive motions where possible
Most of the time, conservative treatment will yield successful results. But if it does not appear to be working for you, some other non-surgical options include:
- PHYSIOTHERAPY – a course of physiotherapy may be helpful in allowing you to identify the repetitive movements or strain that is causing your symptoms. Your physiotherapist can assess your movements and guide you on how to adapt. They will also show you certain exercise which can help to improve the strength and muscle tone in your arm. Your physiotherapist may even recommend that you wear a forearm strap to reduce the strain on your arm and elbow.
- INJECTIONS DIRECTLY INTO THE ELBOW – Injection therapy involves the use of specific materials to help relieve the condition.
- ULTRASONIC TENOTOMY (TENEX PROCEDURE) – using an ultrasound for guidance, your doctor will insert a needle into the damaged area of the tendon. The ultrasonic energy vibrates at a speed high enough to cause the damaged tissue to liquefy. Your doctor can then suction this out.