Tennis elbow is a painful condition that affects the elbow of a person’s dominant arm. People who are right-handed are more likely to get tennis elbow in their right arm. Many tennis players have a problem with this malady, which is how it got its name. The term is somewhat of a misnomer because you can get it even if you don’t play tennis.
Some of the symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following.
• Gradually increasing pain in the elbow
• Elbow pain that worsens when squeezing or gripping objects
• Sharp elbow pain when twisting jar lids or when lifting things
Tennis elbow can be caused by a sudden or a subtle injury to the muscles or tendons on the outside of the elbow where they attach to the bony portion of the joint, which is called the lateral epicondyle. Physicians usually refer to tennis elbow as lateral epicondylitis. Golfer’s elbow is the same type of injury, but it occurs on the inside of the elbow rather than on the outside. Repeatedly overusing the injured elbow can cause the damage to spread to the back of the joint. Although most people develop the condition in their dominant arm, it can affect the non-dominant arm or both arms as well.
Between 1 to 3 percent of the people living in the United States suffer from tennis elbow. Half of all professional tennis players have developed it or will develop it in the course of their careers, but fewer than 5 percent of people diagnosed with tennis elbow play tennis. Men are more likely to get tennis elbow than women. It commonly affects people 30 to 50 years old. However, a person of any age may be stricken by it.
Athletes who participate in sports other than tennis can get tennis elbow. People who use their arms repetitively during their job or recreation are also susceptible to this type of injury. Gardeners, golfers, landscapers, baseball players, mechanics, bowlers, assemblers and office or house cleaners can get tennis elbow by overusing their arm, elbow, wrist or hands.
Treatment for Tennis Elbow
Treatment for tennis elbow varies based on numerous factors, such as general health, the severity of the condition, the patient’s age, medications being taken by the patient and the patient’s medical history. Treatment is meant to promote the elbow to heal by reducing the inflammation of the tendons and muscles and by lessening the use of the arm. Sometimes the forearm is put in a brace so that the tendons can heal. Physical therapy is also used to treat tennis elbow. Cortisone injections, cortisone creams and anti-inflammatory gels aid in the recovery.
Tennis elbow can rarely be seen in an X-ray. It is also undetectable by blood tests. Only a doctor can diagnose it from the symptoms you describe during an examination. Other conditions can also cause pain in the elbow, so it’s crucial to see your doctor if your elbow is painful. Your physician can make the correct diagnosis and recommend the proper treatment for your condition. Your elbow’s health will greatly benefit if you rest your arm for a few weeks. Tennis elbow is likely to return if you continue to overuse your arm as you did in the past.