Tennis elbow

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis Elbow is a common name to injuries caused to the elbow by repetitive stress.  As the name suggests this 50% of the diagnosed cases of tennis elbow are found in tennis players. But this can be found in any person especially those who are engaged in  work activities like gardening, cleaning, plumbing etc which  necessitate  repetitive use their hands . Tennis elbow usually affects the dominant hand though it can be found in the nondominant hand or in both the hands.

Human elbow is a joint consisting of three bones.  Humerus which is the upper arm bone, radius and ulna which are the bones of the forearm join together in the elbow.  The bump on the outside of the humerus is called lateral epicondyle.  Extensor carpi radialis brevis muscles starting from lateral epicondyle is connected to the third metacarpal. Recent research has shown that the damage caused to this muscle by applying more stress with a tennis bat which has tight strings or when a screw driver is guided manually can result in the micro tearing of the tendon. This causes swelling and pain leading to tennis elbow.

What are the symptoms of Tennis Elbow?

1)      Gradually increasing pain outside the elbow is the common symptom. But pain may be felt all of a sudden also.

2)      When trying to squeeze objects or shake hands with other persons your pain my increase considerably.

3)      Pain may worsen in activities where stresses are applied on the wrists like opening jars, lifting weights, using tools etc.

How Tennis Elbow is diagnosed?

The doctor will carefully analyze the symptoms you experience and try to arrive at a conclusion.  X-rays and other diagnostic tests are not helpful in diagnosing tennis elbow. But your doctor my ask you to take X-ray photographs to rule out the possibility of arthritis of the elbow. Similarly MRI scan will be necessary to rule out the possibility of neck arthritis and herniated disc. Electromyography will be required to ascertain whether any nerve compression is the reason for the symptoms exhibited.

How Tennis Elbow is treated?

It has been found that easy relief from the symptoms of tennis elbow has been obtained in 90 % of the cases through non surgical method. The first and foremost importance is given to physical rest of the hand in non surgical treatment for tennis elbow. Physical rest for several weeks combined with anti inflammatory and non steroidal medication is the best treatment option for tennis elbow as it has yielded very good results in most of the cases.  Your physical therapist may suggest you special exercises that can strengthen the forearm muscles. A brace attached to your forearm will also be helpful in relieving the symptoms shown by you. Your doctor may also suggest steroid injections like cortisone to the damaged muscle which will help you to get relief from tennis elbow. Another important method of non surgical treatment is sending of sound waves to the elbow. Microtrauma produced by sound waves is very helpful in fastening the body’s natural healing process.

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