What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) is a common affliction that many racquet playing and general sportspeople encounter due to overuse or injury. By some accounts, up to 40% of tennis players alone suffer tennis elbow. Tennis elbow however is not only attributed to the sport of tennis but rather any sport or activity that sees repetitive motions of the wrist and forearm. This could be other racquet sports such as squash or badminton as well as throwing sports like javelin or discus and even daily activities like gardening or playing the violin! Basically, any time you are constantly and excessively bending the elbow and using your wrist, you run the risk of experiencing tennis elbow.
What are Tennis Elbow symptom?
In most circumstances, in order to be classified as tennis elbow there should be discomfort localised to the outer part of your elbow which is caused by degenerative changes of the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB). Symptoms for tennis elbow usually develop gradually with pain starting in a mild manner before worsening slowly and consistently over a period of days or weeks, depending how often you are using the elbow and wrist. Common symptoms can include;
- Tender and pain residing on the outside of the elbow and upper forearm
- Swelling around the elbow
- Weakness or stiffness of the elbow
- Unable to straighten elbow or shake hands without experiencing pain
What causes Tennis Elbow?
The cause of tennis elbow originates from ECRB muscle tendon that connects from the elbow and runs along the forearm to the wrist joint, connecting muscle to bone. This tendon can become damaged or overstressed from injury or overexertion. The ECRB is a muscle tendon which helps to stabilize, abduct and extend the hand at the wrist joint. When participating in sports or activities that require excessive bending and repetitive stress, microscopic tears occur throughout the tendon which results in pain and discomfort. The common occurrence of the injury can also be attributed to the location of the ECRB which rubs against the medial epicondyle which is the bone on the outside elbow.
Can I treat Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow can be treated either in a nonsurgical or surgical way.
Non-surgical treatment has been seen to be extremely effective with a success rate of between 80-95%. These treatments include;
- Rest – Cease participation in the sport or activity that you think is causing the stress on your elbow, arm and wrist
- Physio – Visit your physio for therapy, massages and exercises to relieve and strengthen your elbow
- Brace – Trial an elbow brace which provides additional support for the joint
- Bexters Soda Crystals – Use a Bexters application wrap with Soda Crystals to help relieve inflammation and swelling of the elbow join
- Steroid injections & Shock Therapy – Anti-inflammatory and microtrauma therapy help to promote recovery
- Bexters Magnesium Spray – Magnesium oil spray can assist with inflammation relief and promote circulation around the afflicted area
If after 6 to 12 months of non-surgical treatment the elbow is still suffering from pain and discomfort, surgery may need to be conducted.
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Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any health program.