Tennis elbow tendonitis is an overuse injury which may affect the elbow and is typically caused by playing tennis. There are however many other common activities which can cause tennis elbow. The pain of tennis elbow primarily occurs where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to the bony prominence on the outside of the elbow.
The pain from tennis elbow can also spread into your forearm and wrist. Tennis elbow is similar to golfers elbow, but tennis elbow occurs on the inside, rather than the outside, of the elbow. Often rest and over the counter pain relievers (OTOs) help with the pain associated with tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow is caused by repeated contraction of the forearm muscles that are used to straighten and raise the hand and wrist. The repeated motions and stress to the tissue may result in inflammation of a series of tiny tears in the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the bone at the outside of the elbow.
The actual motion of playing tennis, which includes repeated use of the backhand stroke with poor technique, is just one possible cause of this condition. Many other motions, including hammering, painting, raking leaves, or any activity with repetitive motion may cause tennis elbow as well.
Tennis elbow is most common in adults between the ages 30 and 60, but this condition can affect anyone who repetitively stresses their wrists. Tennis players, musicians, dentists, and carpenters may be at particularly high risk.
Self care techniques to help relieve tennis elbow include using ice, resting, and using over the counter medications. It is vital to seek immediate care, however, if the elbow is not able to be bent, looks deformed, or if it is possible a bone is broken.
The physician may be able to diagnose tennis elbow by examining the elbow and reviewing medical history. The doctor typically applies pressure to the affected area to help evaluate the pain and stiffness.
He or she may also test for tennis elbow by moving the elbow, wrist, and fingers in various ways. X-rays can help rule out possible causes of elbow pain such as a fracture or arthritis.
Treating Elbow Tendonitis
If elbow tendonitis symptoms are not treated, it may result in chronic pain, especially when lifting or gripping objects. Using the arm too strenuously before the elbow has been healed can make the problem much worse.
As stated, the initial treatment for tennis elbow usually involves self care, which includes rest, icing the area, and the use of acetaminophen or over the counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
The longer term use of medications is not recommended because they can cause serious gastrointestinal disorders. Other steps to consider helping relieve the pain of tennis elbow include analyzing the way the arm is used.
The doctor or physical therapist may also suggest specific exercises to gradually stretch and strengthen the muscles, especially the muscles of the forearm. Once these exercises are learned, they can be done at home or at work. It may also be suggested that straps or braces are worn to reduce stress on the injured tissue.
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