Also referred to as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow can be referred to as a painful condition, which happens when the tendons in the elbow become overloaded, usually due to frequent movement of the arm and wrist. Although the name of this condition might suggest that only tennis players that can get it, any individual has the chances of getting tennis elbow.
People that work at jobs that entail regular use of the arm or wrist such as painters, plumbers, butchers, and carpenters are at a high risk of developing this condition. The pain from tennis elbow can be quite overwhelming to deal with, and this is the main reason why you need to have a good understanding of this condition. This article looks at tennis elbow, its symptoms, treatment, and best prevention method.
What are the Symptoms of Tennis Elbow?
The main symptom of tennis elbow is around the wrist and forearm. This pain can make it hard for you to do simple tasks such as write with a pen, type on the computer, hold a coffee cup, turn a doorknob, and even shake hands.
What are the Main Causes of Tennis Elbow?
As aforementioned, the main cause of tennis elbow is overuse of the arm or wrist. Despite this, it can also be caused by injury on the forearm. However, most tennis elbow cases are due to repeated contraction of the wrist and forearm muscles. The stress placed on the muscles due to constant motion may cause tiny tears on the tendons, which attach the bony prominence to the forearm muscles.
As its name might suggest, the main cause of tennis elbow might be playing tennis because the game entails frequent use of the elbow. Poor technique when doing the backhand stroke can cause this condition. Despite this, many other activities can cause tennis elbow such as painting, using plumbing tools, repetitive computer use, and even cutting up cooking ingredients.
Diagnosis for Tennis Elbow
The diagnosis process for tennis elbow starts with your doctor doing a thorough examination around the affected arm and elbow. The doctor will require that you flex your wrist, elbow, and arm to understand where the tennis elbow hurts. Your physician might also require that you do an imaging test, like an MRI or X-ray to diagnose the condition and rule out any other issues that might be causing the pain on your elbow.
What is the Best Treatment for Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow should heal on its own without any intervention, as far as you take a rest from the activities that caused the condition in the first place. However, this can take a lot of time and you can speed up the healing process by doing a few things at home such as:
- Icing the Elbow
To minimize the pain and swelling on your elbow, consider icing it for about 30 minutes every 4 hours for about 3 days. If your condition is not very serious, the pain should go away after the treatment period.
- Taking Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medication
NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can help minimize the pain and swelling caused by the tennis elbow. Despite this, it is good to note that these medications can cause different side effects like ulcers and bleeding. You should thus only use them when necessary.
- Performing Certain Motion Exercises
Doing motion exercises can help reduce stiffness on the affected part and increase mobility and flexibility.
- Using an Elbow Strap
An elbow strap helps protect the injured muscles and tendons from further strain. This makes it easier for you to recover.
- Getting Physical Therapy
As aforementioned, motion exercises are important to increase flexibility of the affected area. However, you might not have the skill to do the exercises by yourself correctly. This is the main reason why you should get the assistance of a physiotherapist. They have the expertise to do physical therapy and ensure positive results.
Tennis elbow is a kind of swelling of the tendons, which causes pain in the arm and elbow. These tendons ensure a connection between the muscles of your lower and the bone. Although its name suggests may suggest otherwise, you can still get tennis elbow even if you do not play tennis. The main reason behind this is that other activities that entail frequent gripping like painting may also cause tennis elbow. Although you can treat tennis elbow at home, a professional is better placed to treat the condition. So, consider getting medical attention if you happen to develop tennis elbow.