Tennis elbow is a type of tendinitis, which means inflammation of the tendons. Tendons are tough bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones. In tennis elbow, the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow become irritated and inflamed. This causes pain and tenderness on the outer side of the elbow, which may radiate to the forearm and wrist.
Tennis elbow is also known as lateral epicondylitis, because it affects the lateral epicondyle, which is a bony bump on the outside of the elbow. The main muscle involved in tennis elbow is the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB), which helps extend and stabilize the wrist. When the ECRB is overused or strained, it can develop small tears and inflammation, leading to tennis elbow.
What Causes Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is often caused by repetitive or strenuous activities that involve the use of the forearm muscles, such as playing tennis or other racquet sports, gardening, painting, carpentry, or typing. These activities can put excessive stress on the tendons that attach to the elbow, especially if they are done with poor technique, inadequate equipment, or insufficient rest.
However, tennis elbow can also occur in people who do not engage in these activities. Sometimes, tennis elbow can develop without any obvious cause or injury. This may be due to aging, genetics, or other factors that make the tendons more prone to degeneration and inflammation. Some medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or diabetes, may also increase the risk of developing tennis elbow.
What Are The Symptoms Of Tennis Elbow?
The main symptom of tennis elbow is pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow, which may worsen when you:
- Bend or straighten your arm
- Twist your forearm or wrist
- Grip small objects, such as a pen, a racket, or a mouse
- Raise your hand or reach for something
- Shake hands or squeeze something
Other symptoms of tennis elbow may include:
- Stiffness or reduced range of motion in the elbow
- Weakness or numbness in the forearm or hand
- Swelling or inflammation around the elbow
- Difficulty performing daily tasks that involve the use of the arm
How Is Tennis Elbow Diagnosed?
To diagnose tennis elbow, your doctor will ask you about your medical history, your symptoms, and your activities that may have caused or aggravated your condition. Your doctor will also examine your elbow and perform some physical tests to check for pain, tenderness, swelling, and strength in your arm.
Your doctor may also order some imaging tests to rule out other possible causes of your elbow pain, such as:
- X-rays: These can show if there are any fractures, arthritis, or bone spurs in your elbow.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This can show if there are any tears, inflammation, or damage in your tendons, muscles, or ligaments.
- Ultrasound: This can show if there are any changes in the blood flow or structure of your tendons.
How Is Tennis Elbow Treated?
The treatment of tennis elbow depends on the severity of your condition and your personal preferences. The main goals of treatment are to:
- Reduce pain and inflammation
- Promote healing and recovery
- Restore function and mobility
- Prevent recurrence and complications
Some of the common treatments for tennis elbow include:
- Rest: This means avoiding or modifying the activities that cause or worsen your pain. You may need to take a break from playing sports or using your arm for work until your symptoms improve.
- Ice: This means applying ice packs or cold compresses to your elbow for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day. This can help reduce pain and swelling.
- Medication: This means taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to relieve pain and inflammation. You should follow the dosage instructions on the label and consult your doctor before taking any medication.
- Braces: This means wearing an elbow strap or brace to support and protect your injured tendon. This can help reduce stress and strain on your tendon and allow it to heal.
- Physical therapy: This means doing exercises and stretches to strengthen and stretch your forearm muscles and tendons. This can help improve blood flow and flexibility in your arm and prevent stiffness and scar tissue formation.
- Massage: This means applying gentle pressure and friction to your affected tendon to stimulate blood flow and break up scar tissue. This can help reduce pain and improve healing.
- Acupuncture: This means inserting thin needles into specific points on your body to stimulate the release of natural painkillers and anti-inflammatory substances. This can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Shockwave therapy: This means applying high-energy sound waves to your injured tendon to stimulate blood flow and tissue regeneration. This can help reduce pain and promote healing.
- Steroid injection: This means injecting a corticosteroid, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory drug, into your affected tendon. This can help reduce pain and inflammation quickly, but it may also have some side effects and risks, such as weakening your tendon or causing infection.
What Are The Complications Of Tennis Elbow?
If left untreated, tennis elbow can lead to chronic pain and disability in your arm. You may have difficulty performing simple tasks that involve the use of your arm, such as opening a jar, turning a key, or lifting a cup. You may also develop permanent damage or degeneration in your tendon, which may require surgery to repair or replace.
Some of the possible complications of tennis elbow include:
- Tendon rupture: This means a complete tear or break in your tendon, which may cause severe pain and loss of function in your arm. You may need surgery to reattach or graft your tendon.
- Tendon calcification: This means the formation of calcium deposits in your tendon, which may cause stiffness and reduced range of motion in your elbow. You may need surgery to remove the calcium deposits.
- Nerve entrapment: This means the compression or pinching of a nerve in your elbow, which may cause numbness, tingling, or weakness in your forearm or hand. You may need surgery to release the nerve.
How Can You Prevent Tennis Elbow?
The best way to prevent tennis elbow is to avoid or reduce the activities that cause or aggravate your condition. However, if you cannot avoid these activities, you can take some steps to protect your elbow and prevent injury, such as:
- Warm up: This means doing some light exercises and stretches before you start any activity that involves the use of your arm. This can help prepare your muscles and tendons for the activity and prevent stiffness and strain.
- Cool down: This means doing some gentle exercises and stretches after you finish any activity that involves the use of your arm. This can help relax your muscles and tendons and prevent inflammation and soreness.
- Use proper technique: This means following the correct form and posture when you perform any activity that involves the use of your arm. This can help distribute the force evenly across your arm and prevent excessive stress and strain on your tendon.
- Use appropriate equipment: This means choosing the right size, weight, shape, and grip for your tools, instruments, or sports equipment. This can help reduce the impact and vibration on your arm and prevent overuse and fatigue.
- Take breaks: This means taking regular breaks from any activity that involves the use of your arm. This can help rest your muscles and tendons and prevent overloading and injury.
- Strengthen: This means doing exercises to strengthen your forearm muscles and tendons. This can help improve their endurance and resilience and prevent weakness and damage.
- Stretch: This means doing exercises to stretch your forearm muscles and tendons. This can help improve their flexibility and elasticity and prevent tightness and scar tissue formation.
Tennis elbow is a common condition that affects the elbow joint. It is caused by inflammation of the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow. It causes pain and tenderness on the outer side of the elbow, which may worsen with certain movements or activities.
Tennis elbow is often caused by repetitive or strenuous activities that involve the use of the forearm muscles, such as playing tennis or other racquet sports. However, it can also occur in people who do not engage in these activities.
Tennis elbow can be diagnosed by a physical examination and some imaging tests. It can be treated by rest, ice, medication, braces, physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, shockwave therapy, or steroid injection. In some cases, surgery may be needed to repair or replace the damaged tendon.
Tennis elbow can lead to chronic pain and disability in the arm if left untreated. It can also cause complications such as tendon rupture, tendon calcification, or nerve entrapment.
Tennis elbow can be prevented by avoiding or reducing the activities that cause or aggravate it. However, if these activities are unavoidable, some steps can be taken to protect the elbow and prevent injury.
I hope this blog post has helped you understand more about tennis elbow and how to deal with it. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.
: [Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) – OrthoInfo – AAOS]
What are some common racquet sports that can lead to tennis elbow?
Some common racquet sports that can lead to tennis elbow are:
- Tennis: This is the most obvious and well-known sport that can cause tennis elbow, especially if you use a heavy or stiff racquet, hit the ball with too much force or spin, or have a poor backhand technique.
- Squash: This is a fast-paced sport that requires frequent and powerful wrist movements, which can strain the forearm muscles and tendons.
- Badminton: This is a sport that involves a lot of overhead and sideways swings, which can put stress on the elbow joint and tendons.
- Racquetball: This is a sport that involves hitting a small ball with a short racquet in a confined space, which can cause repetitive and intense impacts on the arm.
- Table tennis: This is a sport that involves rapid and precise wrist and forearm movements, which can cause overuse and fatigue of the arm muscles and tendons.
What are some other treatments for tennis elbow besides the ones mentioned in the post?
Some other treatments for tennis elbow that are not mentioned in the post are:
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection: This is a procedure that involves injecting your own blood plasma, which contains growth factors and platelets, into your injured tendon. This can help stimulate healing and reduce inflammation.
- Prolotherapy: This is a procedure that involves injecting a solution of sugar, water, and anesthetic into your affected tendon. This can help trigger an inflammatory response and stimulate tissue repair.
- Stem cell therapy: This is a procedure that involves injecting stem cells, which are cells that can develop into different types of tissues, into your damaged tendon. This can help regenerate new tendon cells and restore function.
- Surgery: This is a last resort option that involves removing the damaged part of your tendon or releasing it from the bone. This can help relieve pain and restore mobility, but it may also have some risks and complications.
How long does it take to recover from tennis elbow?
The recovery time from tennis elbow varies depending on the severity of your condition, the type of treatment you receive, and your adherence to the recovery plan. In general, it may take anywhere from several weeks to several months to fully recover from tennis elbow. However, some people may experience chronic or recurrent symptoms that last longer than a year.
Some factors that can affect your recovery time are:
- The extent of your tendon damage or inflammation
- The effectiveness of your treatment
- The frequency and intensity of your activity
- The quality of your rest and nutrition
- The presence of any complications or underlying conditions
How can I raise my hand without feeling pain from tennis elbow?
If you have tennis elbow, raising your hand may cause pain or discomfort in your elbow. To avoid this, you can try some of the following tips:
- Use your other arm to support or lift your affected arm
- Keep your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle when raising your hand
- Use a sling or brace to immobilize your elbow
- Apply ice or heat to your elbow before or after raising your hand
- Take painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs as prescribed by your doctor
How can I grip small objects without feeling pain from tennis elbow?
If you have tennis elbow, gripping small objects may cause pain or difficulty in your elbow. To avoid this, you can try some of the following tips:
- Use larger or softer objects that are easier to grip
- Use tools or devices that have ergonomic handles or grips
- Use gloves or pads to cushion your fingers and palm
- Relax your grip and avoid squeezing too hard
- Switch hands or alternate between different objects
How can I reduce pain and swelling in my elbow from tennis elbow?
If you have tennis elbow, you may experience pain and swelling in your elbow. To reduce this, you can try some of the following tips:
- Rest your arm and avoid any activities that worsen your pain
- Ice your elbow for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day
- Elevate your arm above your heart level to reduce blood flow and swelling
- Compress your elbow with an elastic bandage or wrap to reduce swelling
- Take anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids as prescribed by your doctor
How can I prevent tennis elbow from playing tennis?
If you play tennis regularly, you may be at risk of developing tennis elbow. To prevent this, you can try some of the following tips:
- Choose a racquet that suits your size, skill level, and playing style. A lighter, larger, and more flexible racquet may reduce the impact and vibration on your arm.
- Use proper technique when hitting the ball. Avoid hitting too hard or too late, use a smooth and fluid motion, and follow through with your swing.
- Warm up before playing and cool down after playing. Do some light exercises and stretches to prepare your muscles and tendons for the activity and prevent stiffness and soreness.
- Vary your strokes and shots. Avoid using the same stroke or shot repeatedly, and mix up your forehand, backhand, serve, and volley.
- Take breaks and rest your arm. Avoid playing for too long or too often, and give your arm time to recover and heal.
How can I prevent tennis elbow from working on a computer?
If you work on a computer for long hours, you may be at risk of developing tennis elbow. To prevent this, you can try some of the following tips:
- Adjust your workstation to suit your height, posture, and comfort. Use a chair that supports your back and arms, a desk that is at the right level for your keyboard and mouse, and a monitor that is at eye level and at a comfortable distance.
- Use ergonomic equipment that reduces strain on your arm. Use a keyboard that is soft and responsive, a mouse that is light and easy to move, and a wrist rest that supports your wrist and forearm.
- Use proper technique when typing and clicking. Avoid typing too fast or too hard, use both hands to type, and use keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse when possible.
- Take breaks and stretch your arm. Avoid working for too long without interruption, and take frequent breaks to relax and stretch your arm muscles and tendons.
How can I prevent tennis elbow from doing household chores?
If you do household chores regularly, you may be at risk of developing tennis elbow. To prevent this, you can try some of the following tips:
- Use tools or appliances that are easy to use and handle. Use a vacuum cleaner instead of a broom, a dishwasher instead of a sponge, and a spray bottle instead of a cloth.
- Use proper technique when doing chores. Avoid twisting or bending your wrist or elbow, use smooth and gentle movements, and switch hands or directions frequently.
- Wear protective gear or gloves when doing chores. Wear gloves or pads to protect your hands and fingers from friction and pressure, and wear elbow pads or braces to support and stabilize your elbow.
- Take breaks and rest your arm. Avoid doing too many chores at once or in a row, and take regular breaks to relax and rest your arm.
How can I prevent tennis elbow from doing sports or hobbies?
If you do sports or hobbies that involve the use of your arm, you may be at risk of developing tennis elbow. To prevent this, you can try some of the following tips:
- Choose activities that are suitable for your skill level and physical condition. Avoid activities that are too difficult or demanding for you, and start with easier or simpler ones.
- Use proper equipment that fits your size and preference. Use equipment that is appropriate for your activity, such as gloves, balls, clubs, brushes, etc. Make sure they are not too heavy, too small, or too hard to use.
- Use proper technique when doing activities. Follow the instructions or guidance of an expert or coach, learn the correct form and posture, and avoid mistakes or errors that can cause injury.
- Warm up before doing activities and cool down after doing activities. Do some light exercises and stretches to prepare your muscles and tendons for the activity and prevent stiffness and soreness.
- Take breaks and rest your arm. Avoid doing activities for too long or too often, and give your arm time to recover and heal.