Have you ever experienced severe pain on the outside of your arm ?
You may be suffering from tennis elbow also known as epicondylitis .
And what are the symptoms , what are the causes and what are the remedies for this chronic condition?
What is tennis elbow?
Doctors know the condition by the specific name of lateral epicondylitis . The rest of the people call it more simply tennis elbow.
The term has entered the collective imagination, although it must be said that only a small group of people who have been diagnosed with tennis elbow actually get sick while playing tennis.
Tennis elbow is a common injury that usually heals with non-invasive treatment but you need to give the patient plenty of time to rest.
Where is the pain?
Tennis elbow is a focused pain, as I mentioned before, on the outside of the arm where your forearm meets the elbow .
The forearm is connected with the tendons to the muscles. Furthermore, tendons connect muscles to bones. When you constantly use your arm in a repetitive motion, the tendons at the extremity of the elbow, the ones that control the radial extensor muscle, can be problematic.
These problems stress the arm that no longer extends properly and has difficulty grasping things, as well as some constant chronic discomfort.
Tennis elbow affects up to 3% of the population, particularly adults between the ages of 30 and 50. But less than 5% of the cases are related to tennis, so it has only the name related to tennis but little to do with it.
What Causes Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is a classic repetitive strain injury caused by excessive use of the arm that gets tired and worn by repeating the same movement.
Any activity that strains the muscles around the elbow can cause this chronic, absolutely constant and certainly disabling pain.
There is also a version golfers refer to as “golfer’s elbow” which exploits and suffers from the same principle of making a series of arm movements that are stressful after a while that are always done in the same way.
In tennis, hitting the backhand ball puts some stress on the forearm muscles which contract repeatedly when the tennis player hits the ball.
If you have little technique or are too tight on the racket, the stress can increase in the very tendons that connect the muscles of the forearm to the elbow.
The tendons can then become inflamed.
The more you do it, and tennis is a game that relies on repeated hits, the greater the chance of suffering from tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow may occur with other racquet sports, such as squash or racquetball.
It can even more often happen that this type of pain results from jobs or activities that involve repetitive arm movements, such as:
- repetitive use of the chain saw
- to be a carpenter
- playing certain types of musical instruments
- workers on an assembly line
Golfer’s elbow, which I mentioned earlier, differs from tennis elbow in that the pain is concentrated on the inside of the elbow .
The causes are similar, though: tendon pains caused by repetitive movements, whether it’s a golf shot, weight lifting, or simply a certain consistency in doing chores and chores with your hands.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptom of tennis elbow is pain on the outside of the elbow.
Over time, from a few weeks to a few months, the pain turns into chronic pain. The outside of the elbow can become too painful to touch.
Eventually, you may find it harder or more painful to grab or lift things.
Sometimes tennis elbow hits both arms and this becomes really hard to manage. However, I can assure you that even the pain you feel in grabbing something can be really disabling, especially if you can’t stop doing the same movement as for those who work in a factory and have a rather tight assembly line to respect. .
What are the possible treatments?
Your doctor may ask you to do a few simple actions, in their presence, to see if you have tennis elbow. These include straightening the wrist quite firmly and then checking for pain in parts of the arm. He may also order an MRI to see what kind of situation he is facing.
Tennis elbow can usually be treated with exercise as recommended by Dr. Michele Franzese , physical therapy and medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) and aspirin.
Talk to your doctor if you have ongoing pain and think you may need to take pain relievers for an extended time.
But, in general, my advice is to always talk to your doctor because he is the one who takes care of you and he is the one who is able to relate you to the right drugs or the right therapy to do.
You can use pharmacological and physical therapies as we said before, try magnetotherapy, laser therapy, cryotherapy, electro stimulations, functional bandages, a compression brace that compresses precisely the outer part of the elbow, the one that it hurts.
But there are also some preventive exercises to do at home that seem very simple to me and that I therefore recommend:
- take a tennis ball and squeeze it several times with the palm of your hand
- hold a club and try to flex the elbow at 90 degrees so as to have it parallel to the ground and circle the wrist about 20 times per arm
- do external spins and reels with a racket in your hands, so that your body and elbow get used to the repetitions
They are three very simple exercises that can give some relief to what your body is and can remove the spectrum of this chronic, somewhat disabling pain, this is undoubted and also evident.