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Tennis Elbow : Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Updated: Mar 28

Tennis, a sport of finesse and power, demands rigorous physical exertion from its players. However, along with the thrill of the game comes the risk of injuries, one which we will dive deeper into today is tennis elbow. Despite its name, tennis elbow isn't exclusive to tennis players; it can affect anyone who engages in repetitive arm movements. In this article, we'll delve into the intricacies of tennis elbow, exploring its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow, medically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition characterised by pain and inflammation on the outer part of the elbow. This area, where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of the elbow, becomes irritated due to repetitive stress or overuse.

Causes of Tennis Elbow:

Contrary to popular belief, tennis elbow isn't solely caused by playing tennis. While repetitive motions involved in tennis serve as a common trigger, several other activities and occupations can lead to the development of this condition. Some common causes include:

  1. Overuse: Activities involving repetitive gripping, twisting, or lifting can strain the muscles and tendons in the forearm, leading to tennis elbow. This includes sports like tennis, golf, and cricket, as well as occupations that require repetitive arm movements, such as plumbing or carpentry.

  2. Incorrect Technique: Poor technique or improper equipment usage during sports activities can increase the risk of developing tennis elbow. For instance, using a racquet with a grip that's too small or too tight can exacerbate the strain on the forearm muscles.

  3. Age and Gender: Tennis elbow most commonly affects individuals between the ages of 30 and 50, and it tends to be more prevalent in men than in women.

  4. Previous Injury: A history of elbow or forearm injury can contribute to the development of tennis elbow.

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow:

The hallmark symptom of tennis elbow is pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, which may radiate down the forearm. Other common symptoms include:

  1. Weakness in the affected arm, particularly when gripping objects or shaking hands.

  2. Stiffness in the elbow joint, especially after periods of inactivity.

  3. Difficulty performing tasks that require wrist extension or lifting, such as holding a coffee cup or turning a doorknob.

Tennis Elbow Treatment

Fortunately, most cases of tennis elbow can be successfully managed with conservative treatment methods. Here are some options:

  1. Rest and Activity Modification: Giving the affected arm adequate rest and avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms can help alleviate pain and promote healing.

  2. Ice Therapy: Applying ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

  3. Pain Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

  4. Physiotherapy: A physiotherapist can prescribe exercises to strengthen the muscles in the forearm and improve flexibility, as well as techniques to correct improper biomechanics. Strengthening specific muscles in the forearm helps to correct the muscle imbalance at the forearm which is contributing to the development of the condition

Tennis Elbow Preventions

While it's not always possible to prevent tennis elbow, there are steps individuals can take to reduce their risk of developing the condition:

  1. Use Proper Technique: Whether playing sports or engaging in occupational activities, using proper technique and equipment can help minimise strain on the forearm muscles.

  2. Warm-Up and Stretch: Before engaging in physical activities, it's important to warm up properly and stretch the muscles to reduce the risk of injury.

  3. Strengthening Exercises: Incorporating exercises to strengthen the forearm muscles into your fitness routine can help improve resilience and reduce the risk of overuse injuries.

  4. Stretching and muscle release: As we all utilise grip force throughout the day it is very common to develop a muscle imbalance at forearm as a result it is important to stretch and release your forearm regularly

  5. Rest and Recovery: Giving the body adequate time to rest and recover between activities is essential for preventing overuse injuries like tennis elbow.

Conclusion: Tennis elbow is a common yet often misunderstood condition that can cause significant discomfort and interfere with daily activities. By understanding its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, individuals can take proactive steps to manage the condition effectively and prevent recurrence. Whether you're a weekend warrior or a seasoned athlete, listening to your body and practicing proper injury prevention techniques can go a long way in keeping tennis elbow at bay.

Body Fit Physiotherapy

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