Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that affects the outer part of the elbow. Despite its name, it is not limited to tennis players and can affect anyone who performs repetitive arm and wrist movements, particularly those involving gripping and twisting motions. It is a type of tendinopathy, which means it involves damage to the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the lateral epicondyle (a bony prominence on the outside of the elbow).
Tennis elbow is usually caused by overuse or repetitive strain on the forearm muscles and tendons. Some common activities that can lead to tennis elbow include playing tennis, gardening, typing, using a computer mouse extensively, carpentry, and certain sports like racquetball and golf. The repeated stress causes small tears in the tendon, leading to pain and inflammation.
The main symptom of tennis elbow is pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow. The pain may also radiate down the forearm and worsen with gripping or lifting objects. You may also experience weakness in the affected arm.
The treatment for tennis elbow usually involves a combination of self-care measures and medical interventions. Here are some common approaches:
1. Rest: Avoiding activities that aggravate the condition can help in the healing process.
2. Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
3. Pain relief: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help manage the pain and reduce inflammation.
4. Physical therapy: Specific exercises and stretches can be prescribed by a physical therapist to strengthen the forearm muscles and improve flexibility.
5. Brace or strap: Wearing a counterforce brace or strap around the forearm can help alleviate pressure on the tendon insertion point.
6. Corticosteroid injections: In severe cases, a doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain.
7. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT): This non-invasive procedure uses shockwaves to stimulate healing in the affected area.
8. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy: PRP involves injecting a concentrated solution of platelets from your own blood into the affected tendon to promote healing.
9. Surgery: In rare cases when conservative treatments don’t work, surgery might be considered to remove damaged tissue or reattach the tendon.
To prevent tennis elbow or reduce the risk of recurrence, consider the following measures:
– Maintain proper technique during sports or activities that involve repetitive arm movements.
– Warm up before engaging in physical activities.
– Strengthen the forearm muscles to better support the tendons.
– Use equipment with the right grip size and properties to reduce strain.
– Take breaks and avoid overusing the affected arm.
Remember, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan if you suspect you have tennis elbow or any other medical condition.