What is Tennis Elbow? Is this injury related to only tennis players? Find out the tennis elbow causes and the tennis elbow treatments in this post. Do you want to know if there is any tennis elbow treatment at home? Wondering what the RICE treatment is and whether it can help you recover from RSI injuries?
There is a strong misconception that Tennis Elbow (tendonitis in elbow) can happen to only those who play Tennis. However, more and more people who are totally unrelated to the sport are getting diagnosed with this condition. Tennis Elbow is a repetitive strain injury (RSI) which involves micro tears of the tendons near the elbow. The medical name of Tennis Elbow is ‘lateral epicondylitis’ which is a condition in which there is a chronic pain caused by the inflammation of the tendons on the outside of the elbow. When the pain is on the inside of the elbow, the condition is called as a ‘golfer’s elbow’.
Tennis Elbow Symptoms
- Pain around the Elbow
- Difficulty in Shaking Hands or Squeezing Objects
- Instability of Hand while the Wrist
- Pain While Lifting Loads, Even the Lightest Loads
- Weakness of the Forearm
- Tenderness on Lateral Side of the Elbow
Why Do We Get Tennis Elbow?
One can get Tennis Elbow through working on an ergonomically bad keyboard and mouse for long hours. In such cases, the pressure falls entirely on the elbow and thus subjecting it to enormous pressure and pain. Of course, Tennis Elbow has always been a common injury amongst tennis players and also players of other sports like squash, cricket.
Repetitive Hand Motion Activities that Can Cause Tennis Elbow:
- Meat Cutting
- Playing Musical Instruments
- Wood Cutting
In addition to the above list, tailors, artists and factory workers who use scissors constantly, are prone to this type of tendonitis of the elbow.
Tennis Elbow Causes
Tennis Elbow is caused by the repetitive use of the forearm which puts constant pressure on the tendons near the elbow joint. This overuse of the forearm results in inflammation and micro-tears in the elbow tendons which are the connective tissues connecting the muscle and bone. A person suffering from Tennis Elbow can struggle to lift even the lightest of weights including a tea cup when the injury is very severe. Even while sleeping, people with tennis elbow would feel discomfort because of the pain caused by bending their affected arm. When the injury is severe, the affected person may get a constant feeling of the elbow actually popping out from the hand!
Tennis Elbow Treatments
A qualified physiotherapist will give you the most effective treatment to help you recover from Tennis Elbow. The treatment can last a minimum of one week during which the physiotherapist will warm up the elbow region using a heating pad and then giving electrotherapy and ultrasound therapy. If the elbow pain is still not manageable after the physiotherapy, the other options are to get a cortisone injection right on the affected region and even if that doesn’t work, then surgery is the last option to remove the inflammation. Most of the sore elbow cases are taken care of by ultrasound and electrotherapy given by the physiotherapist.
Tennis Elbow Treatment at Home
In order to speed up the healing and recovery process, you should also go for RICE treatment which can be done conveniently at home to reduce your elbow aching. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Your elbow pain can come down to a manageable level if you stop the repetitive activity that caused it in the first place. Stop that activity for a few days and allow the affected elbow enough rest to help it recover on its own.
Regular massaging of the elbow using ice helps in numbing the area temporarily and helps in increasing the blood circulation which reduces tendon inflammation. Wear a compression band or an elbow brace which holds the hand together near the elbow and reduces the tension in the forearm muscle. Finally elevate the affected hand above the heart level which increases the blood circulation and gradually helps in decreasing swelling.
Tennis Elbow Rehabilitation
Tennis elbow recovery time is highly variable from person to person. However, the pain can be effectively managed through physiotherapy and by incorporating slight changes in the techniques in moving and bending our hands. This means better ergonomics, wearing an elbow brace and others. Tennis elbow recurrence is very common as most people fail to stop the activities that give them livelihood. It is therefore advisable to strengthen your forearm muscle through various tennis elbow exercises such as squeezing ball, pulley exercise and hand gripping exercies during the rehabilitation period.