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Tennis Elbow: An Overview
Tennis Elbow, medically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition arising from the inflammation of the tendon of the muscle, extensor carpi radialis brevis.
It is a common injury experienced by sports person, especially tennis players, from where it got the name. However, you and I can also experience this injury by extensive use of wrist.
The injury is usually a result of wear and tear to the tendon of the muscle, extensor carpi radialis brevis, 2 cm below the elbow joint. Overuse of the wrist extensors against resistance causes the injury.
In sportsperson it could be a result of a bad backhand technique, faulty grip of a racket and use of heavy or wet balls. In general population it could be caused by works such as, painting, gardening and plumbing.
Signs and Symptoms:
The common signs and symptoms are pain at the lateral epicondyle of the elbow. It is a bony area approximately 2cm below the elbow joint. The pain increases in extending the wrist, more so against resistance.
You can feel pain while stretching your fingers. Also, the area feels painful on palpation. The pain increases on lifting heavy objects and in some cases it may radiate down the forearm.
The management of tennis elbow falls under two categories, surgical and non-surgical.
In case of acute onset follow the RICE principle:
R- Rest (Keep your arm rested and avoid any work that may increase the pain.)
I- Ice (Apply Ice at the lateral epicondyle, it will help in pain relieving.)
C- Compression (Use Elbow Brace to keep the area compressed.)
E- Elevation (Try keeping the elbow in elevated postition, can use a sling for that in severe conditions.)
Once the pain subsides, the next phase is of precautions and modifications. Athletes should work on improving their backhand techniques. The racquet size should be chosen carefully and the strings should not be too tight. In daily routine, it is best to abstain from activities that are responsible for the injury or otherwise, use an elbow brace.
Medical treatment includes, use of anti-inflammatory medicines to relieve pain and cortisone injections in severe cases. Simple stretching and strengthening exercises of forearm muscles can be of great help in the condition.
Surgical treatment includes removal or releasing of the affected tendon and arthroscopic elbow surgery.