“Tennis elbow” is a common term used to describe a condition caused by repetitive use of arm and forearm muscles that subsequently results in elbow pain. You don’t have to be a tennis player to get this, but the term came into use because mostly tennis players suffer from this problem.
Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is a condition that produces severe, burning pain over the bone at the side of the elbow. It is generally caused by either abrupt or subtle injury of the muscle and tendon area around the outside of the elbow.
Some common symptoms of tennis elbow include:
- Recurring pain on the outside of your upper forearm, just below the bend of your elbow.
- Pain gets worse when shaking hands or bending your arm.
- Pain is made worse by stabilizing or moving the wrist with force. Examples include lifting, using tools, opening jars, or even handling simple utensils such as a toothbrush or knife and fork.
- Difficulty in writing or gripping small objects, such as pen.
Tennis Elbow Treatment
The patient can go for combination of treatments to get rid of this problem over a period of time.
What can the athlete do?
- Apply cold packs or ice to the elbow (15 mins up to six times a day). This will help reduce pain and inflammation if present.
- Taking complete rest plays an important role in fast healing of this injury.
- Wear a brace or support to protect the tendon whilst healing and strengthening, particularly when returning to playing tennis.
What can a sports injury specialist or doctor do?
- Advise on pain control such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen.
- Apply ultrasound or laser treatment to help reduce pain and inflammation as well as stimulate healing.
- Use manual therapy treatments such as massage therapy, myofacial release and/or transverse friction techniques across the tendon.
- Acupuncture is an effective treatment for tennis elbow as it has shown positive results.
- Advise on rehabilitation to return the athlete to full fitness.
- Provide advice on neural stretching exercises if nerve tissue involvement is suspected.
- Identify and correct any predisposing factors which lead to the onset of tennis elbow. Get advice from your tennis coach with regards to your backhand technique, grip and racket size.
- Operate – if conservative treatments have failed for about a year then you can consider this option.