Tennis elbow doesn’t only apply to people who play tennis. In fact, people with occupations in carpentry, plumbing, and painting are also at risk of developing tennis elbow. In addition to tennis, other sports likely to cause tennis elbow include bowling and baseball. Men and people ages 30-50 are more susceptible to this condition than others.
Small tearing of the muscles and tendons around the elbow is what causes tennis elbow. Any overuse and repetitive motions of the wrist and arm can lead to overload of the tendons in the elbow. The pain is most noticeable, for many patients, when gripping objects tightly, lifting objects, and shaking hands. Traditionally, the pain may be outside of your elbow but can also travel to your wrist and forearm.
Fortunately, tennis elbow usually resolves with rest and rehabilitation.This includes icing your elbow (with a cloth in between the ice and your skin) and wearing an elbow brace. If these options don’t work, your physician may suggest corticosteroid injections. Corticosteroid injections mimic a hormone produced in your adrenal glands called Cortisol that is used to control inflammation. Stopping or changing the way you do the activity will prevent further pain after treatment. There are surgical procedures available to treat tennis elbow, but it is not guaranteed to fix it. The following surgical procedures are: cutting and releasing the tendon, removing inflamed tissue from the tendon, or reattaching and fixing tendon tears. Studies have found that none of these surgical procedures are better or worse than one another.
Preventive care is important to lower your chances of developing chronic problems such as tennis elbow. Prevention care involves being cautious with your range of motion and safe execution. Stretching and warming up your muscles will allow for a greater range of motion so you have less chance of hurting muscles and tendons. For the people playing sports, it is important to ask a coach or trainer for advice on how to improve technique so you can play safely. You can also strengthen forearm and wrist muscles because it will put less strain on your elbow and surrounding muscles and tendons. Lastly, make sure you have the right equipment. Lightweight equipment is easier to use and puts less stress on the elbow.
With this information in hand, be aware to use preventive tips to prevent tennis elbow. Remember that a blog post doesn’t equate with a doctor’s visit.
–Samantha Lee, 2019 Enterprise for Youth Intern