What there is to know about Tennis Elbow

November 12, 2012

What there is to know about Tennis Elbow

Most people who are suffering from a sore or painful elbow actually have a case of lateral epicondylitis, more commonly known as tennis elbow. Small tears of the tendons at the elbow joint, which connect the muscles to the bone, are probably the cause of tennis elbow although this has not been proven for certain. Its medical name “lateral epidondylitis” is derived from the part of the elbow bone to which the muscles of the forearm are attached, “lateral epicondyle”. The problem actually occurs when the tendons that attach the two become damaged. It is likely that the damage is caused over time due to repetitive movement and is a degenerative process. The process is thought to occur when tiny tears are unable to completely heal within the tendon. As tennis elbow is largely caused by repetitive use, we can narrow down the potential sufferers into two groups of people; manual labourers and people who participate in a lot of sport. Labourers who spend a great deal of time working with their hands on a similar task have a chance of developing tennis elbow. For example plumbers, painters, carpenters and gardeners all spend time making the same motion with their arms. People who regularly participate in sports such as golf, fencing, and of course racquet sports all face the risk of suffering from tennis elbow. It is estimated that around 75% of tennis players develop the injury at some point during their career.

Symptoms are usually confined to pain around the elbow sometimes spreading down the forearm and pain when lifting or grasping objects. In some cases the pain appears very suddenly and in others it increases gradually and comes and goes before getting more frequent. Both men and women are affected and it usually begins to occur in people over the age of 35 getting more common as you get older. Approximately a third of sufferers develop tennis elbow in their dominant arm.

It can be hard be completely confirm that you definitely have tennis elbow as x-rays and MRI scans rarely reveal anything. There are a few other explanations for a painful elbow including a weak joint or elbow arthritis. However, once you have explained your symptoms and a doctor has examined your elbow he or she will be able to give you a diagnosis.

Once you know you are suffering from tennis elbow you can begin treating it and making modifications to your lifestyle. Rest your arm for a while to give the tendons some time to repair, take anti-inflammatory medicine, do special exercises to strengthen the area and If you are tennis player you can make sure your racquet is of the optimal weight and size. A common and often successful treatment is a cortisone injection. If one treatment doesn’t work try one of the other options and normally patients eventually find a treatment that work for them. A small percentage of people end up requiring surgery but this is quite an extreme and last resort.


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