Today we’re talking about tennis elbow. Now, if you’ve ever had tennis elbow, you will know exactly how painful it is and how much it affects your day-to-day life. Simple things such as picking up a kettle, filling it with water, and trying to pour it will cause you pain.
Even picking up something small and something relatively insignificant like a coffee cup will cause you pain. If you go to the gym, it will stop you from doing many upper body exercises.
Now tennis elbow is also known as lateral epicondylitis. That’s just the medical term. It denotes where the pain is, what structures are involved, and what’s causing the pain.
You may have also heard of the golfer’s elbow. That just affects the inside of the elbow here, but we’re only focusing on the tennis elbow today.
Three bones make up the elbow joint: the two forearm bones, and the humerus in your upper arm (radius and ulna). Epicondyles are bony protrusions at the bottom of the humerus that mark the starting points of various forearm muscles. The lateral epicondyle is the name for the bony outgrowth on the lateral (outside) side of the elbow.
The elbow joint is held together by muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, affects the tendons and muscles in your forearm that extend your wrist and fingers. Your wrist and fingers can be extended by your forearm muscles. The muscles in your forearm are joined to the bone via tendons known as extensors. Extensor carpi radialis brevis is the name of the muscle tendon that is typically affected in the tennis elbow (ECRB).
Causes Of Tennis Elbow
According to recent studies, a certain forearm muscle is frequently the cause of tennis elbow. When the elbow is straight, the ECRB muscle aids in stabilizing the wrist. For instance, this happens during a groundstroke in tennis. Microscopic tears develop in the tendon where the ECRB joins to the lateral epicondyle when the ECRB becomes weak from overuse. Pain and inflammation are caused by this. So any repetitive movement, anything that causes some sort of irritation to the tendon is gonna cause inflammation. And that inflammation is then gonna cause pain, and it’s gonna progressively snowball and get worse and worse to the point where you can’t lift things as easily.
The position of the ECRB may potentially put it at a higher risk of harm. The muscle brushes against bone protrusions as the elbow bends and straightens. The muscle may gradually wear out as a result of this over time.
Tennis elbow affects people other than athletes. Many persons who have tennis elbow engage in occupations or leisure pursuits that demand frequent, vigorous forearm activity or frequent wrist and hand extension.
Tennis elbow is a condition that is particularly common in painters, plumbers, and carpenters. It is more common even in the car industry, in kitchens, and even among butchers. It is believed that these professions cause injuries because they demand heavy lifting and repetition.
Tennis elbow signs and symptoms appear gradually. The pain typically starts off modest and gradually gets worse over the course of weeks and months. The onset of symptoms is frequently not tied to a specific injury.
The following list of tennis elbow symptoms is typical:
- Your elbow’s outside may hurt or burn
- Weak grip capacity
- In some cases, nighttime pain
With forearm activity, such as holding a racquet, spinning a wrench, or shaking hands, the symptoms frequently get worse. The most frequently impacted arm is your dominant one, though both arms might be impacted.
Treatment Of Tennis Elbow
Between 80 and 95 percent of individuals benefit from nonsurgical therapy. Following treatment methods are what most of you will benefit from.
Resting your arm properly is the first step toward healing. This means that for a few weeks, you will need to refrain from or reduce your involvement in activities like sports, strenuous work, and others that result in uncomfortable symptoms.
To help alleviate discomfort and swelling, acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may be administered.
Visit Physical Therapist
The forearm muscles can be strengthened using certain exercises. To speed up muscle repair, your therapist might also use ultrasound, cold massage, or muscle-stimulating methods.
Below I will explain what a rehabilitation process with a physical therapist usually looks like. For most of you, the pain should subside after a certain time. As a reminder, even after the pain subsides, continue with the exercises for future injury prevention purposes.
What we’re trying to do is get the tension through the forearm muscles decreased. As you decrease the tension in the forearm muscles, that’s gonna take the tension away from the bone.
What you can also do is gently massage the painful area itself, that’s just gonna help to get circulation, blood circulating through the problem area and help to take away some of that inflammation. Over time, that’s gonna help to reduce the pain. And then you can progress on to the stretching, which is phase two. So phase two is where the pain has generally become a lot less, maybe it’s around three or four out of 10 now. The muscles will have tightened up and this is mainly because you probably haven’t been using the muscles as much. So this is the phase where you want to start stretching. And then after that, we’re gonna go into phase three, which is the strengthening.
So you’ve done your phase two, increase the flexibility through the muscles. Hopefully, that’s gonna have taken the tension away from the attachment points. And it’s the strengthening that’s going to help you rebuild the tendons.
Relief Pain Temporarily
Tennis elbow treatment and rehabilitation frequently involve the use of a tennis elbow strap or brace. These tools allow you to continue performing certain activities while experiencing less pain and discomfort. On a side note, it is important to mention that tennis braces will not solve your problems. It is just a tool to help you throughout your rehabilitation period, as decreasing inflammation and increasing strength in the affected area are the most important.
There are various varieties available on the market, how they operate, and which would be ideal for you.
Choosing the best support for you will depend on your budget and any activities you may have in mind.
Tennis elbow clasp
These tennis elbow supports, which are often more costly, must be fitted properly to be successful. They are made out of a plastic clasp or clip that goes around the arm and is attached to a strap that has a pressure point over the muscle a few centimeters below the area of discomfort on the elbow.
Pressure on the tendon or muscle that joins to the lateral epicondyle absorbs part of the pressures sent through the tissues that cause the injury. It will also shift the angle at which the tendon functions, so changing the direction of forces and reducing symptoms of tennis and golfer’s elbow.
The tennis elbow clasp provides a precise pain-lowering effect on the affected area. On the other side, it is on the pricier side of tools you can get for your tennis elbow issues. Therefore it is recommended for individuals that are in greater need, such as tennis players.
Tennis Elbow Strap
Tennis elbow braces are basic strap-style braces that wrap around the forearm immediately below the elbow. Some feature extra pressure pads that are designed to be placed on the muscle right below the area of discomfort on the elbow.
They function by squeezing the upper forearm and absorbing pressures passed via the soft tissues to the area of discomfort on the outside of the elbow. They also alter the angle at which the tendon functions at the elbow, so altering the stresses exerted on the tendon attachment and enabling the wounded region to heal.
The tennis elbow strap is easier to use and is more affordable. Yet, it is not as precise as the clasp which should be taken into consideration.
A basic elbow sleeve and a strap are combined to create the tennis elbow sleeve. While the strap is wrapped around the upper forearm to function similarly to a tennis elbow strap, the sleeve provides compression, support, and warmth for the whole elbow. The tennis elbow sleeve has the benefit of providing warmth over the painful area, which may hasten the healing process. Heat has a positive effect on tendon injuries that are neither acute nor recent.
The sleeve also supports the whole joint, therefore this support is advised if there are further injuries in addition to epicondylitis. The drawbacks of this kind of brace are the added bulk and less precise forearm strap tightening compared to a separate strap.