Tennis Elbow: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Even though the name might suggest that Tennis Elbow is an issue that persons involved in that sport will undergo, that notion is entirely incorrect.

Caused by the repeated contraction of the forearm muscles used in straightening and raising your hand and wrist, tennis elbow is a condition common not only among athletes but also among non-athletes.

 

What is Tennis Elbow?

 

Tennis elbow is a condition caused by excessive or overuse of tendons in your elbow.  Over time, certain arm and wrist motions tend to weaken arm muscles and tear the tendon that attaches these muscles to the bony end of your arm. This condition, medically christened as lateral epicondylitis, is known as tennis elbow.

For the uninitiated, tendons are bands of tough tissue that attach your muscles to your bones, acting as a cushion.

 

Tennis Elbow: Symptoms

 

If the pain radiates from the outside of your elbow into your forearm and wrist, these are signs of a tennis elbow. Those suffering from lateral epicondylitis will typically suffer inflammation in the area where the tendons of their forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on their elbow. The pain may radiate from this part and be felt in your wrist till the ends of your fingers.  Those suffering from tennis elbow may sometimes suffer pain when performing the following activities:

 

  • Lifting something
  • Making a fist
  • Raising hand
  • Straightening wrist
  • Turning a doorknob
  • Shaking hands
  • Keeping a firm grip on an object

 

Tennis Elbow: People prone to getting lateral epicondylitis

 

Athletes and professionals, who make excessive use of specific arm and wrist motions are more vulnerable to getting a tennis elbow. These include:

 

  • Tennis players
  • Squash players
  • Racquetball Players
  • Baseball players
  • Softball players
  • Bowlers
  • Gold players
  • Fencers
  • Painters
  • Dentists
  • Carpenters
  • Plumbers
  • Gardeners
  • Butchers
  • Chefs
  • Auto mechanics

 

Tennis elbow symptoms

 

  • Inflammation
  • Pain in the outer elbow
  • Swollen elbow joint
  • Pain in twisting, bending & extending your arm
  • Weakened grip

 

Common arm motions can cause tennis elbow

 

  • Repetitive arm movements
  • Use of the backhand stroke with poor technique in racquet games
  • Using plumbing tools
  • Painting
  • Driving screws
  • Cutting up cooking ingredients
  • Excessive computer mouse use

 

Tennis elbow versus golfer’s elbow

 

Tennis elbow affects the tendons on the outsides of your arm while a golfer’s elbow affects the tendons on the inside of your elbow.
 

Tennis elbow treatment

 

Self-care steps

  1. Rest
  2. Use ice pack on the affected area
  3. Use an elbow strap to reduce further strain
  4. Compression
  5. Specific exercises
  6. Physiotherapy
  7. Use pain relievers

 

When to see a doctor?

 

Typically, a tennis elbow does not cause a long-term problem and can be cured with conservative self-care methods. In case, the conservative methods fail to cure the situation for a prolonged period of over a year, you may be suffering from a severe case of tennis elbow. In this case, you need to see a doctor, who may recommend surgery. The surgery would typically involve removal of the damaged section of tendon and repair of the remaining section. The recovery in such cases is 4 to 6 months.

 

FAQs

 

What is the main cause of tennis elbow?

Tennis Elbow is a medical condition, caused by the overburdening of the tendons in your arm.

What is the best way to relieve the tennis elbow?

Rest, physiotherapy, and over-the-counter medication are considered to be effective in dealing with tennis elbow.

What is the fastest way to cure tennis elbow?

The fastest way to cure a tennis elbow is to immediately stop the activity that caused the problem and rest. Use an ice pack on the affected area and design a workout program to recover from the injury.

What is the best tennis elbow treatment?

The best self-care treatments for a tennis elbow are rest, ice, and physical therapy.

How long does a tennis elbow take to heal?

With proper treatment, it may take nearly 18 months for a tennis elbow patient to undergo complete recovery.

Will the tennis elbow fix itself?

Resting and stopping the activity that caused the issue could result in a tennis elbow fixing on its own between 6 to 18 months.