Tennis Elbow: What is it, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
Tennis elbow refers to pain that occurs where the tendons in the forearm muscles connect to the bone on the outside of the person’s elbow.
Tennis elbow refers to pain that occurs where the tendons in the forearm muscles connect to the bone on the outside of the person’s elbow. Pain may result from small tears in the tendon. Pain may also radiate to the forearm and wrist. Rest and using doctor-prescribed medications may help reduce symptoms. However, various tests may be requested by the doctor for a correct diagnosis. Accordingly, the doctor may recommend the necessary treatment or may deem it appropriate for the person to exercise under the supervision of a physiotherapist.
What is Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)?
Tennis elbow occurs when the tendons that connect muscles to bones become overloaded. Tennis elbow is when there is a tear or swelling in the tendons that connect the forearm muscle to the bone in the upper arm. The inflammation that occurs as a result of tennis elbow develops due to deformity in the arm as a result of excessive use of the arm. It is named this way because it usually affects tennis players who grip their rackets too tightly and experience arm pain as a result. Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain around the outer bony part of the elbow and into the forearm. In medical terms, it is also known as lateral epicondylitis or lateral epicondyle tendinopathy. However, tennis elbow, whose medical name is lateral epicondylitis, can occur in anyone who uses their arms frequently. The doctor may suspect tennis elbow when pain is found on the outside of the elbow. It is caused by the repeated use of the muscles around the elbow during movement. Stopping doing what caused the injury can cure tennis elbow without serious treatments. Tennis elbow is an overuse injury that usually occurs due to overload and strain from tasks and activities that involve repeated gripping and wrist extension. Risk Factors include:
- To smoke
- Repetitive movements for more than 2 hours per day
- vigorous activity
What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is a painful problem that occurs as a result of excessive use of the arm. The pain may go away in a short time, or it may get worse. As pain from tennis elbow progresses, it can make it difficult to work or do physical activity. The condition can also affect grip ability, making it difficult to grasp objects. Tennis elbow can cause the outer part of the elbow and the upper forearm to be sore and tender to the touch. Making certain movements, such as shaking hands or turning a doorknob, can become painful. Pressing on the outside of the elbow can make the pain worse. Symptoms of tennis elbow include:
- Burning and pain that can extend from the outside of the elbow to the wrist
- Pain when turning or bending the arm
- Stiffness and pain when extending the arm
- swelling in elbow joint
- Weakening of hand grip
How Is Tennis Elbow Diagnosed?
First of all, when a person visits a healthcare facility due to arm pain, the doctor performs a physical examination to check elbow joint pain, swelling and stiffness. The physician may also ask questions about activities that may cause pain. One or more of various tests may be used to make a diagnosis. Problems such as arthritis can also cause pain similar to tennis elbow. X-ray, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computed tomography (CT) scans may be performed to make sure conditions such as arthritis or bone fractures are not causing tennis elbow symptoms. Electromyography (EMG) can be applied to check muscle and nerve tissues. If the doctor thinks the symptoms are related to a neck problem, he or she may order a magnetic resonance scan. This helps the doctor see if there is a possible herniated disc or arthritis in the neck.
Who Can Get Tennis Elbow?
Performing repetitive arm movements can cause fatigue and damage to the forearm muscles. A single tendon connects the muscle in the arm to the bony prominence on the outside of the elbow. As the muscle in the arm gets tired as a result of overuse, the load on the tendon increases. This overload can cause inflammation and pain, known as tendinitis. Tennis elbow pain may occur from excessive use of the wrist and forearm, such as playing tennis, gardening or painting. Occupations that involve repetitive wrist and forearm movements, such as butchering, carpentry, and plumbing, can also cause this problem. People at risk of tennis elbow problems include:
- Tennis, squash, racquetball, baseball players
- People doing assembly work
- auto mechanics
How is Tennis Elbow Treated?
Tennis elbow can heal on its own with little treatment unless serious injuries occur. There are non-surgical and minimally invasive treatment options for tennis elbow. It may be necessary to rest and stop or reduce activities for a few weeks, especially for the tendons to heal. At the same time, an injection option called PRP can be used for treatment. In advanced cases, surgical options are available. Damaged tissue is replaced with healthy tendons and muscle from a different part of the body. It may also be recommended to use a brace after you have tennis elbow to prevent symptoms from returning. Painkillers may also be prescribed to reduce pain. Tennis elbow is a condition that one should not self-treat. The necessary treatment plan must be determined under the supervision of a doctor.
What are Tennis Elbow Exercises?
Apart from clinical treatments, exercise therapy may include exercises designed and prescribed for specific therapeutic purposes. To relieve tennis elbow, exercises performed under the supervision of a doctor can restore normal muscle function or reduce pain caused by injuries. These exercises must be performed under the supervision of a doctor and the recommended exercises must be applied. Exercises that can generally help tennis elbow include:
- Stretching Exercises: Stretching exercises are often performed before physical activities during the day. After recovery, stretching exercises can be incorporated as part of the warm-up, as do activities that involve grip, such as gardening, tennis, and golf. These movements are generally performed by straightening the arm with the palm facing down and then pulling the hand towards the body until you feel tension on the outside of the forearm.
- Wrist Extension: Wrist extension and strengthening exercises can be performed gradually with dumbbell hand weights. These repetitions can be increased every few days when there is no increase in pain. To perform the exercise, the elbow is bent 90 degrees and the forearm is supported on the table with the wrist at the edge. The arm is moved using dumbbells.
- Wrist Flexion: This exercise, which should be done gradually, can be progressed by increasing the weight when completed without increasing pain. It is performed with the dumbbell and the arm up and down in several repetitions.
How to Prevent Tennis Elbow?
For people at risk of tennis elbow, various lifestyle changes can reduce this risk. Things you can do to prevent tennis elbow include:
- Stopping the activity that causes pain or performing it with an activity that does not cause pain.
- Avoiding using the wrist and elbow more than the rest of the arm. Also spreading the load from the shoulder to the larger muscles.
- Changing playing techniques if playing sports with repetitive movements that involve the use of the arms, such as tennis and baseball.
- Properly warming up and stretching the arm muscles before engaging in a sport that involves repetitive arm movements.
- Avoiding extra stress on the tendons by using light instruments or rackets.
- Wearing a splint when using the arm to prevent further damage to the tendons during activity.
- Doing muscle building exercises under the supervision of a physiotherapist and doctor to increase the strength of the forearm muscles.