Lateral epicondylitis or Tennis Elbow is a pretty much frustrating condition which mainly occurs due to elbow overuse. It is to be noted that athletes, tennis players, and any form of racquet sports come under the high-risk group. Tennis Elbow can be treated in a simple manner. It mainly happens due to strain in the tendons of one’s forearm. Treating it properly will gradually alleviate the pain in a couple of weeks.
Caution must be exercised while moving the hand. Using painkillers before starting any sports activity or exercise will reduce the severity of the pain and keeps you going. An ice pack can be applied to safeguard the joints.
Read the article below to know more about how to handle tennis elbow condition and its treatment.
In The Article
Facts About Tennis Elbow
How it starts:
Primarily, it is quite tough to correctly identify tennis elbow condition in the early stages. This condition makes it tough for anyone to diagnose it very accurately in the initial stages. You will feel a small pain outside the elbow or some sort of burning sensation or stiffness could persist.
An ice pack can be very useful to alleviate this condition or you can pop in an ibuprofen tablet as per doctor’s advice. Tennis elbow also occurs if one twists his/her wrist at regular spells.
People from different professions cutting across plumbing, construction, painting, and factory-related work chronically suffer from tennis elbow wherein racquet-related sports people have a high probability to get affected by this condition. Tennis elbow mostly affects the latter mainly due to their strenuous workouts and practice schedules.
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
- Pain near the elbow joint
- Elbow swelling
- Pain when you shake hands
- Pain when making a fist
- Pain while lifting something
- Morning stiffness of the elbow with persistent pain
- Soreness in the forearm
- Causing severe pain when grasping or holding an object
- Pain while using tools
- Pain while using utensils like fork or knife.
Causes of Tennis Elbow
Tennis Elbow condition might occur while:
- Typing on a keyboard
- Painting a picture
- During knitting
- Doing carpentry works
- Playing Squash
- Playing tennis
- Excessive use of hammer
How tendons are injured:
Remember, tendons are hard/tough fibers connecting bones and muscles in an individual. The muscle in the forearm is responsible for the flexible movement of the hand. The muscles are connected to the bones of the finger by tendons.
Overuse leading to tiny tissue tears in the tendon area is the main reason behind this condition.
Tendons can be injured in several different ways:
- A sudden forceful tear of the tendon
- Bruises formed because of muscle tearing
- Tendons are torn microscopically for months or years.
This condition is often called as Tendonitis.
Is Tennis Elbow acute or chronic?
It is neither acute nor chronic. It depends on the amount of damage done at the particular spot. But in most cases it is acute.
Treatments for Tennis Elbow
The Treatments for Tennis Elbow Include:
- Modifying one’s physical activity
- Physical therapy
Home Treatment for Tennis Elbow:
Ice for Tennis Elbow:
Ice treatment for tennis elbow will only be a stopgap reliever.
Ice can really help when you encounter a serious injury abruptly resulting in swelling and it can be allayed. Majorly, tennis elbow arises only in a small injury and occasionally in cases like a sprained ankle, it is notable. Swelling will happen during such time and ice will the perfect curative.
Swelling is a bad symptom. It indicates too much of fluid is building up. Your tissues get all clogged up. Your circulation slows way down. But you need good circulation for healing. Swelling is not tenderness or soreness or redness you can see. Swelling is only a buildup of a fluid. Can you see swelling in your elbow? Or does it feel puffy in that area? If you see it, there isn’t any.
The icing on the other hand, when applied to other related anti-inflammatory drugs, could curb the speed of the healing process nevertheless that it can make you feel a certain level of relief.
You don’t need to use ice for tennis elbow unless there is a noticeable swelling. Firstly, place the ice in a bag and then put some form of barriers such as a tea towel or facecloth. Only then should you apply the ice. Never apply ice directly to your skin. This can cause irreversible skin and tissue damage. Ice is not effective for a long-term treatment. It works as a temporary pain relief. It can be applied twice a day for 15 minutes interval.
Taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory(NSAIDS):
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are a drug class that groups together drugs that provide analgesic and antipyretic effects, and, in higher doses, anti-inflammatory effects this will help you to reduce pain and swelling.
Some of them are as follows:
This may cause bleeding and ulcer and it has some side effects too. This is strict to be used under the prescription of the doctor. These are used only occasionally. NSAIDs may cause stomach, kidney or heart problems, and NSAIDs applied to the skin may cause a rash. In the latest research, it says that anti-inflammatory drugs have no ability to help the healing process. Instead, these drugs are very harmful and may cause bad effects. It may stop or delay the recovery of tendons and injured muscles.
Steroids, for instance, such as Cortisone must be injected rarely because they don’t offer complete relief and it can become detrimental for the body of an individual. It can be averted.
Cortisone is a suppressor but this can be also dangerous. Inflammation is not the problem. This is only a symptom. Cortisone may weaken tendons and can slow down the healing process. When tennis elbow doesn’t improve cortisone is considered as a last and the final solution before going to surgery.
Should You Wear Support for Tennis Elbow?
The supports you can wear include:
In most cases, it’s a NO. The exception is for shorter periods, while you are playing tennis, golf or some other sport but not while you are walking around, not while you are sitting at home and worst of all while you are working.
Steroids, for instance, such as Cortisone must be injected rarely because don’t ensure complete relief and it can become detrimental for the body of an individual. It can be averted.
Why don’t supports help tennis elbow heal? If you broke your arm, you’d have to get a cast. If you sprained your ankle, you’d have to wrap it. So what is so different about tennis elbow? Tennis elbow has little or nothing in common with broken bones and sprains. It is not a sprain or a strain. There is usually no major muscle or tendon tear. But what about the smallest tear? Tennis elbow sufferers often worry about that often because the pain is so sharp or relentless. But the severity of the pain has little to do with it. It is a tendon injury.
Most of the time, the injured tendons are not badly torn all at once. They are damaged gradually. The biggest problem is tendons heal very slowly. The biggest risk is sometimes they don’t heal at all. They gradually break down instead. This is called Tendinosis.
The typical cases of tennis elbow are:
- The healing process fails
- Tendons gradually breakdown
- Degeneration occurs (Tendinosis)
Remember that tendons heal slowly mostly because they have much less of a blood supply (compared to muscles). The last thing you want to do is reduce the circulation and blood supply as your tendons are trying to heal which is what these supports do.
What do these supports do actually? They restrict the movement of your muscles, tendons and elbow joints and compare the tissues and blood vessels, also your lymph flow. Muscles and tendons need gentle movement and mobility to heal properly except right after a major tear.
The worst thing about supports is they tend to encourage sticky scar tissue and that binds and restricts your muscles and tendons. The only time to use the brace, strap or wrap is temporarily for an hour or two while you are playing tennis or golf or engaging in a forceful activity.
- It prevents the injury from recurring time and again
- Low cost
- Helps to get rid of the pressure on the tendons.
Tennis elbow straps (pros and cons):
Strapping has proved to be a good and economic pain alleviator where individuals like athletes or weightlifters suffering from lateral epicondylitis are using straps, which are largely efficient. However, long-term relief to tennis elbow injury is not given by it.
Results say strapping is effective allows patients to produce more grip strength with less pain. People with lateral epicondylitis use strap so that it allows people to return to weightlifting or athletics. 5 to 8 cm straps are usually used. Straps are cheap.
But some straps are very skinny. It is used only for a temporary solution. It is not a permanent cure for tennis elbow.
Treatment With Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a holistic technique that helps not only to reduce pain but also an alternate solution to treat tennis elbow. There are points in the body called as pressure points. By pressing certain points the diseases are cured. This is usually performed by a trained specialist. Some of the points are as follows:
1. Large intestine 5
2. Large intestine 6
3. Large intestine 11
4. Large intestine 10
5. Lung point 6
6. Lung point 6
7. Heart point 3
Large intestine 6: It is located in line with large intestine 5. This cures problem not only to the elbow but also teeth and ears.
Large intestine 10: The Chinese name is Shou San L. It is used to cure shoulder pain, tennis elbow, and digestive disorders. Look at the image to know the exact position. The point is on the radial side of the forearm.
Heart point 3: The Chinese name is Shanghai. This is at the middle point connecting the medial end and medial epicondyle. There are various other points also for treating tennis elbow apart from what Is mentioned here.
Treatment With Surgery
When everything else fails like ice pack treatment, rest, brace, drugs, now it can be only cured by surgery. When even exercises and massages don’t work out, we go for surgery in the case of tennis elbow. When the tendons are torn either partially or completely, where it separates from the bone, there is a choice to reattach the tendons by surgery.
Three levels for a lasting recovery:
- The tendon-the damage caused by the tendons which are microscopic like degeneration
- The larger imbalance- imbalance caused by stressing the particular muscle or tendon
- The attached muscle: the tension in the muscle attached to the tendon
Tennis elbow vs Golfer's Elbow
Golfers elbow is a similar condition like tennis elbow. Both are a different form of Epicondylitis.
- Tennis elbow affects the lateral or outside of the elbow. It is called Lateral Epicondylitis
- Caused by an improper technique that develops over the use of extensor muscles.
- Golfers elbow affects the inside or medial side. It is called Medial Epicondylitis.
- Caused by improper technique due to repetitive use of muscles.
Tennis Elbow Rehabilitation
- Eccentric wrist stretch: Take your forearm and put it down on the table. your wrist should be hanging and the palm is faced up. Hold any object which is light in weight. Now slowly lift your wrist. Repeat this practice slowly for 10 times.
- Ball squeezing hand strengthener: By holding the tennis ball in your hand practice squeezing. Start by squeezing for 5 seconds and gradually increase the time.
- Triceps stretch: By bending your arm behind your back put a lightweight on the elbow using the other hand. Hold it for 30 seconds and gradually increase the time up to 1 minute.
- Forearm extensor stretch: Keep the affected arm bent in front of you. With your other hand, hold the fingers of your affected hand. Now pull them back to stretch the forearm. Repeat the practice by increasing the time.
Tennis Elbow Prevention
Engaging in a physical activity daily is one of the best ways to prevent tennis elbow condition. This includes simple stretching exercises, yoga, etc. one should use correct movements and techniques to prevent from tennis elbow. It is very important to use the tools appropriate to your body weight and strength.
Wear a counter-force brace during activities. Learn proper technique of sports such as golf and tennis. Don’t give stress on your elbows while using any kind of equipment. While using your arm wear a tennis elbow splint. Use lightweight tools.