Tennis Elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis is an extremely common injury that originally got its name as it appeared in a high proportion of tennis players. Nevertheless it commonly manifests in a vast proportion of people who do not play tennis at all. Tennis elbow occurs commonly in the tendon of the extensor carpi brevis muscle below the outer edge of the elbow joint.
Specific inflammation is rarely present in the tendon but there is an increase in pain receptors in the area making the region extremely tender.
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow:
-Pain below the bony area on the outside of the elbow (lateral epicondyle) increased with pressing on the area
-Weakness in the wrist with difficulty doing simple tasks such as opening a door handle or shaking hands with someone
-Pain on the outside of the elbow when the hand is bent back at the wrist against resistance
-Pain on the outside of the elbow when trying to straighten the fingers against resistance
Causes of Tennis Elbow
Tennis Elbow is often caused by overuse or repetitive strain caused by repeated bending back of the wrist (extension) against resistance. This may be from activities such as tennis, bricklaying, excessive use of a screwdriver, typing, and painting.
Sudden onset of tennis elbow occurs in a single instance of exertion such as a late back hand in racquet sports where the extensors of the wrist become strained. This corresponds to micro-tearing of the tendon.
Late onset normally takes place within 24-72 hours after an intensive term of unaccustomed wrist extension.
Prevention/ Treatment of Tennis Elbow
Tennis Elbow may heal quickly within two weeks, but it can last upwards of two years. When the symptoms have settled down it is essential that rehabilitation and strengthening of the elbow take place.
-Corrective techniques – play the backhand with the whole body not just the wrist. The small muscles and tendons of the wrist and elbow cannot handle the torque of highly strengthened muscles and quick powerful movements.
-Be aware of too much strain on the elbow when performing repetitive motions for long periods of time.
-Apply ice after repetitive use to reduce any inflammation early.
-Stretch and strengthen muscles of the forearm and elbow before extended use
Massage therapy is one of the leading treatments of Tennis Elbow. Even when the condition has moved to the chronic stage massage is very effective at enhancing circulation, calming strained tendons and muscles, working out knots in the small muscles of the forearm and reducing/realigning scar tissue.