Tennis Elbow – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Recovery
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow or archer's elbow is a condition where the outer part of the elbow becomes sore and tender. The forearm muscles and tendons become damaged due to excessive use. This leads to pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow.
Causes of Tennis Elbow:
Tennis elbow mostly occurs due to overuse, resulting in injury. It usually occurs when the muscles and tendons in your forearm are strained due to a repetitive activity. Tiny tears and inflammation can develop near the bony lump on the outside of your elbow.
Activities that can cause Tennis Elbow:
You can develop tennis elbow by doing any form of activity that involves repeatedly twisting your wrist and using your forearm muscles.
Playing racquet sports – such as tennis, badminton or squash
• Throwing sports – such as the javelin or discus
• Using a paintbrush or roller while decorating
• Manual work – such as plumbing or bricklaying
• Activities that involve fine, repetitive hand and wrist movements – such as using scissors or typing
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow:
Usually the following symptoms have been observed:
• Pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow
• Pain from gripping and movements of the wrist, especially wrist extension and lifting movements
Diagnosis of Tennis Elbow:
To diagnose your tennis elbow, your doctor will examine you properly. He or she will ask you to move your arm, wrist, and elbow to see where it hurts. You may be also asked to undergo tests, such as an X-ray or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to diagnose tennis elbow.
Treatment of Tennis Elbow:
Tennis elbow usually is successfully treated by medical means and only rarely requires surgery. The type of treatment recommended for tennis elbow will depend on several factors including age, type of other medications being taken, overall health, medical history and severity of pain. The goals of treatment are to reduce pain or inflammation, promote healing and decrease stress and abuse of the injured elbow, and allow full use of the arm.
Types of treatment that helps are:
• Icing the elbow to reduce pain and swelling
• Using an elbow strap to protect the injured tendon from further strain
• Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to help reduce pain and swelling. But these should only be taken when advised by the doctor
• Getting physical therapy to strengthen and stretch the muscles.
• Getting local injection over site of pain either Steroid or Platelet rich plasma. If you have a severe case of tennis elbow that doesn't respond to two to four months of conservative treatment, you may need surgery. In the procedure, the damaged section of tendon usually is removed and the remaining tendon repaired.
Recovery depends on individual case to case basis and the extent of the damage that has been caused to the tendon. People heal at different rates. Whatever you do, don't rush your recovery. If you start pushing yourself before your tennis elbow is healed, you could make the damage worse.
You are ready to return to your former level of activity when:
• Gripping objects or bearing weight on your arm or elbow is no longer painful.
• Your injured elbow feels as strong as your other elbow.
• Your elbow is no longer swollen.
• You can flex and move the elbow without any trouble.
How to prevent Tennis Elbow
The key to preventing tennis elbow is to avoid overuse. Stop if you feel any elbow pain during an activity.
• Stretch and warm up before any sport or activity this will exercise your elbow or arm
• Ice your elbow after exercise
Dr. Aashish Chaudhry
Senior Consultant & MD
Orthopaedics, Joint Replacement & Spine Surgery