HomeOrtho CareWhat is Tennis Elbow & It’s Symptoms?

What is Tennis Elbow & It’s Symptoms?

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is a painful inflammation that usually occurs when tendons in your arms are overloaded. In simple words, this condition happens due to the overuse of the wrist and arm.

Tennis elbow is not  only related to tennis. It can  occur in tennis players if they hold or grip their tennis racket tightly. Apart from athletes or sports persons, it can affect other people too—for example, plumbers, carpenters, butchers, and painters. Tennis elbow occurs in all age groups; it is more likely to occur in adults of age between 30-50 years.

What Are the Symptoms of Tennis Elbow?

The pain related to tennis elbow may radiate from outside of the elbow into your forearm and wrist.

You may develop the following symptoms, which are related to tennis elbow:

  • You may feel pain while holding a coffee cup
  • You experience pain when you lift, move, or use something such as heavy objects and tools.
  • Shake hands or grip an object
  • Turn a doorknob

What Are the Causes of the Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is a muscle strain and overuse injury. Tennis elbow is caused by continuous or repeated contraction of the forearm muscles that is used by you to raise and straighten your hand and wrist. The continuous or repeated motions and stress to the tissue can can cause a series of tiny tears in the tendons that attach forearm muscles to the bony prominence at the outside of the elbow.

If the tennis elbow is left untreated, then it may lead to chronic pain in your elbow. This may cause you strain and become a more chronic and debilitating injury. The activities which include the repetitive moving and twisting of the wrist are responsible for tennis elbow, for example:

  • Playing Squash
  • Fencing
  • Weight lifting
  • Swimming
  • Turning a key
  • Frequently using screwdrivers and hammers
  • Carpentry
  • Painting
  • Knitting
  • Typing on computers, typewriters, or laptops.

When to see a doctor?

When the various self-care tips such as resting, applying ice, and pain relievers do not work, then it is recommended to see the doctor. The doctor will diagnose the problem and proceed with the treatment.

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How Can You Treat Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow usually gets better on its own. But if medicines and pain killers are not working and the problem gets critical, it might need the doctor’s prescription. After diagnosing, the doctor will provide you with appropriate treatment according to the severity of the condition.

  • Therapy

The doctor will try to reduce the strain in your arms by providing you with some therapies. The doctor will also recommend you to take advice from an expert for the correct gripping and playing techniques, only if symptoms are related to any sports. 

Physical Therapy: The physical therapists will suggest you some warm-up exercises to treat the tennis elbow physically. These may include ice massages, arm exercises, and muscle stimulating techniques.

Shockwave Therapy: This therapy is not usually used. However, in this therapy, shockwaves are delivered to the elbow so that the body can start its healing process. 

Ultrasound Therapy: In this therapy, an ultrasound probe will be placed over the most painful area on your arm. The probe will release high-frequency sound waves to reduce the inflammation and increase the speed of recovery.

  • Injections

Your doctor may suggest injecting the platelet-rich plasma, botox, or some form of an irritant into the tendon to reduce the pain.

Steroid Injection: To reduce inflammation, your doctor may decide to inject corticosteroid medication directly into the affected tendon.

Platelet-rich Plasma Injection: This treatment is quite promising and is merely used by some physicians. Currently, this treatment is not covered by any insurance company.

  • Surgery

Sometimes it happens that your symptoms get more critical and have no effect on non-operative procedures, then surgery remains the only way that can cure tennis elbow.

Surgery is performed to remove the dead tissue and to reattach a healthy muscle onto the bone. In order to perform surgery, a small scope is inserted into the elbow by making an incision just over it. After completing surgery, the doctor may restrict you to move your arm for better muscle strength and flexibility.

80% – 90% of times, tennis elbow is successfully treated by surgery. However,  surgery should always be performed by orthopedists. (Orthopedists are the surgeons who treat functional abnormalities of the bones by surgery)  

What Can You Do for Post-treatment Care?  

The most important way is to stop the overuse of your wrists and arms when you feel pain during any activity. However, the following are the ways that you need to take care of after the treatment to prevent the recurrence of tennis elbow.

  • Rest: The doctor will suggest you rest and stop doing the particular work when you feel pain.
  • Ice: It is necessary to apply ice on the elbow for at least 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a day. 
  • Stretching: Stretch and warm-up your arms and body before playing any sports.
  • Use the right techniques and equipment: If you are a sports player, then try to play by using the right techniques and equipment. Ask your trainer to guide you with better skills. 
  • Avoid repetitive tasks: You should avoid repetitive tasks if you are experiencing pain in your arms.
  • Take breaks: It is necessary to take breaks.
  • Use tennis elbow strap: Consider trying a tennis elbow strap because it will reduce the stress on your elbow while playing any sport.

If you follow these post-treatment care and prevention tips to avoid strain on your tendons, you can lower your chances of getting tennis elbow.

The End-line

When you are suffering from tennis elbow, the pain may develop gradually in your arms and wrists. Therefore, it is better to take precautions to prevent and/or cure it. However, it is not that difficult to prevent it initially; but if it is not treated further, you may need to go through a surgical procedure to treat tennis elbow.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are Tendons?

The part of the muscle that attaches to the bones is called tendons. In the case of tennis elbow, forearm tendons attach to the forearm muscles to the lateral bone of the elbow.  

Which Muscle Results in Developing the Tennis Elbow?

When the ECRB (Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis) muscle is damaged, then it is responsible for developing the tennis elbow. The purpose of the ECRB muscle is very vital because it helps to raise the wrist.

Who is Affected by Tennis Elbow?

Around 1% – 4% of the population is affected by tennis elbow, and generally, 10%-40% of sports players are affected by it during their sports careers. Tennis elbow is not related to the tennis game. However, 5% of tennis players also suffer from tennis elbow. Also in most conditions, tennis elbow affects men rather than women. 

How Can You Diagnose Tennis Elbow?

Like other diagnostic processes, tennis elbow cannot be diagnosed by performing X-ray and blood tests. It can only be diagnosed with the help of the description of your pain during the physical exam. To diagnose the tennis elbow, the doctor will apply some pressure to your arms and wrists, and they will try to move your fingers, arms, and wrists in several ways.

Request an appointment with Orthopaedic Surgeon

Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment 

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