What is Tennis Elbow?
What is Tennis Elbow, and why do I have it?
In a nutshell, tennis elbow is the pain you get from repeatedly stretching and stressing the muscles and tendons connected to the outside of your elbow, aka the lateral epicondyle. If the muscles that pull the wrist back are placed under too much stress, then they can begin having micro tears.
Activities that can cause, or aggravate the symptoms include turning stubborn doorknobs, attempting to return Andy Roddick’s serve with a backhand, or even something as simple as shaking hands with the coworker who feels it is necessary to try crush your phalanges with every greeting.
Simply put, if you’re experiencing pain on the outside of your elbow when gripping and lifting with the wrist, you probably have been over-stressing the musculature connecting to the outside of your elbow, and now it is inflamed.
How do I treat Tennis Elbow? #Tenniselbow
Unfortunately, every patient requires a unique approach to healing this type of injury. To start though, consider greeting the aforementioned coworker with a fist bump, or altering any other activity that causes sudden pain.
You don’t want to put your wrist in a cast and stop using it, but you want to give it a break from the activities that aggravate your elbow. While you’re giving your arm a break, you want to also exercise and stretch the injured musculature, so that you can increase blood flow and speed up the healing process.
One exercise that may help is small dumbbell hold. You support your forearm palm down on a flat surface, and while holding a 1 to 2 pound weight and you slowly lift the wrist up then slowly lower back down.
After doing 10 repetitions going up, you do the same thing going down. After that, you do the same thing except with your palm facing up. If you do this for a while and it become easy, and doesn’t hurt, you can consider attaching a fastened band to your hand to increase resistance, and thus blood flow.
How do I make it feel better? #tenniselbowtreatment
Exercises are fine and dandy, but how do we get it to stop hurting? There are two strategies to reduce pain; reduce inflammation and wear a forearm strap. To reduce inflammation, one should consider icing, taking an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. The second strategy is wearing a Tennis elbow strap. It is a piece of fabric fastened snugly just below the elbow that compressing the injured muscles and decreasing the pain.
You want to wear the strap whenever you are doing something that has the potential to hurt your elbow, if that’s all the time, and then you can wear it all the time. You can purchase an easy to use strap at your local drug store.
Be patient, the symptoms can linger for weeks if not months, but if your pain continues, then consider visiting your local physician. A qualified doctor can assess your condition and look into stronger treatments, such as a corticosteroid injection, or surgery.
WILLIAM (BILL) STERETT, M.D. IS AN ORTHOPAEDIC SURGEON RESIDING IN VAIL, COLORADO.
DR. STERETT IS THE HEAD TEAM PHYSICIAN FOR THE US WOMEN’S ALPINE SKI TEAM AND THE MEDICAL DIRECTOR FOR THE VAIL VALLEY SURGERY CENTERS.