Tennis Elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis is a painful elbow disorder, typically characterized by soreness or pain on the outer (lateral) part of the elbow.
Pain gets aggravated by activities involving extension of the wrist, including lifting a suitcase, shaking hands, turning doorknobs and the like.
Although referred to as a tennis elbow, this condition is more common in people who use their arm for doing some other repetitive action. Most of the patients suffering from this condition are between the ages of 35 to 65. About 75% of these patients get tennis elbow in their dominant arm.
The categories of patients suffering from this condition include manual laborers and professional athletes.
Some of the most commonly observed symptoms of tennis elbow include:
· Recurring pain on the outside of the upper forearm, just below the bend of the elbow. Occasionally, the pain also radiates down the arm towards the wrist.
· Pain caused by lifting or bending the arm or grasping even light objects such as a cup.
· Having trouble in extending the forearm fully due to inflamed muscles, tendons and ligaments.
· Pain might subside overnight.
· Pain that lasts for 6 to 12 weeks.
Causes of Tennis Elbow
A Tennis Elbow injury normally occurs due to inflammation of the tendons on the outside (lateral side) of the elbow at a bony prominence (lateral epicondyle) of the upper arm.
At times, the inflammation can also be caused by an injury. In cases where the cause is a direct injury or strain, the muscles inserting can be torn.
In extremely rare cases, the condition may occur without any definite cause. This may be due to arthritis, rheumatism, gout or even due to a neck problem.
A) Medical treatment
A physician generally chooses one or more of the following remedies for treatment of tennis elbow:
· An elbow strap or splint that helps by taking the pressure off the inflamed tendon.
· Physiotherapy treatments, which may include heat or ultrasound therapy.
· Physical therapy involving different exercises to increase flexibility and strength.
· Local injection of cortisone and local anesthetics into the affected area.
· Anti-inflammatory drugs and ordinary painkillers (analgesics).
· Anti-inflammatory topical application.
B) Self Care
· Use ice packs at least twice a day for 20 minutes. Never use ice directly on the skin. Instead, wrap it in a towel.
· Rest the sore area as much as possible.
· If your medical history allows, take some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen.
Broadly speaking, there are five main stages of treatment for tennis elbow, which include:
i) Pain reduction ii) Reduction in inflammation iii) Induction of the healing process iv) Maintenance of fitness v) Physiotherapy based rehabilitation