Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is a painful overuse injury that happens when the tendons in your elbow are overworked by repetitive contraction motions of the forearm muscles used in straightening and raising your hand and wrist. This can result in tiny tears in the tendons attaching the forearm muscles to the bony bump outside of your elbow. The pain is not limited to the elbow, and can spread to your forearm and wrist. Most cases of this actually occur in people who don’t play tennis, but still have jobs or play in sports that feature the types of motions that lead to tennis elbow. This can include painters, carpenters, plumbers, and butchers.

Typical Treatment

Usually, rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers are very helpful in relieving pain caused by tennis elbow. You may also be prescribed physical therapy to help strengthen and heal the affected elbow. These physical therapy exercises will gradually stretch and strengthen the affected muscles. This may include learning proper form to prevent future cases of tennis elbow from happening. Experts may evaluate your tennis or sports technique, or the movements required for your job tasks in order to figure out what the best steps are to reduce stress on your tissue that has been injured. Another method used is wearing braces. You may wear a forearm strap or brace to help recide any stress placed on the injured tissue. If your symptoms have not improved after six to twelve months of non-surgical treatments, and your injury is simply more severe, your doctor may suggest surgery.

Surgery will be performed by removing damaged tissue. These can be performed by using a large incision, or through a number of small incisions. It is vital to your healing to follow the rehabilitation exercise regime after surgery to allow for maximum healing and ability to use your arm after.

How to Prevent it

Preventing tennis elbow from occurring includes stretching and strengthening your arm muscles through exercise so they are strong and flexible for the activities you participate in. Make sure to stay in good physical shape overall, concentrating on strengthening the muscles of your shoulder, arm, and upper back to aid in taking stress off your elbow. Make sure to always use correct movements and techniques during any activities you do, use appropriate equipment to suit your ability, strength, and body size. If you must perform repeated movements, try alternating your hands during the activity if at all possible.

Another thing that may be helpful is to wear a counter force brace during the activities requiring you to grasp something or twist your arm. The brace is worn around the forearm, directly below your elbow. It helps by distributing pressure from muscle use throughout the arm, which in turn helps ease pressure on the tendon. Generally, the brace is not used for prevention. However, it may largely help someone who is at a high risk for tennis elbow. Ask your doctor If it would be beneficial for your unique activity and pain to use a brace.

What are the consequences of not treating it?

Not treating tennis elbow can have some serious and painful consequences. If you do not properly rest your elbow after it has been hurt, you risk eventually losing the ability to move it, as well as prolonged pain. Make sure to speak with your doctor about the best course of action if you feel you have the symptoms of tennis elbow.