Tennis elbow can serve up some powerful pain. And while tennis players are the most likely people to suffer this injury, anyone can, because it is the result of repetitive stress to your arm, forearm, wrist and hand. Tennis elbow also occurs in every age group but is more likely to occur among people in their 30s and 40s.
What is tennis elbow?
It’s a medical condition known as lateral epicondylitis. It results when overuse and repetitive stress causes inflammation and tiny tears in the forearm tendons.
How can you tell if you have tennis elbow?
Here are some ways you can tell if you might have tennis elbow:
- Upper forearm pain or on the outer edge of the elbow that won’t go away.
- Forearm pain that comes on suddenly, but not until perhaps three or four days after the activity that cause it.
- Pain that increases with activity—commonly occurs if you raise or bend your arms, when you try to lift something, or when turning your forearm to open a door. Tennis elbow can cause serious pain when trying to lift something as light as a spoon or when giving a handshake.
- Difficulty gripping objects—even light, everyday objects cause pain or cause you to lose your grip.
- Pain that decreases with rest. If rest does not bring relief, contact a doctor.
How is tennis elbow treated?
You may want to start with some self-care options to see if they work. This includes:
- Resting the elbow and forearm. If the injury occurred as the result of a sporting activity, try changing sports or exercise methods for a while. If it is a work injury, ask your boss if you can perform other tasks while your elbow heals.
- Use your arm without overusing it. Learn to use your shoulder and upper arm muscles to take some of the strain off your elbow and try not to bend or straighten your arm all the way.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers—choose anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen or naproxen.
- Ice to reduce swelling and pain. Put it on for about fifteen minutes several times a day until you get relief.
When self-care methods don’t work, it’s time to contact a doctor. The orthopedic specialists at Jewett Orthopaedic have seen it and treated it all, including plenty of cases of tennis elbow. Some of the options we will explore in treating your pain may include:
- Braces or splints to take the pressure off the tendons in your elbow.
- Physical therapy to gradually stretch and strengthen your muscles and improve blood flow, which promotes healing.
- Injections of medication, Botox, or platelet-rich plasma have proven to be helpful in treating tennis elbow.
- Surgery if your symptoms don’t improve. As a last resort, we may need to surgically remove damaged tissue in order for your arm to heal.
If you’re concerned that you may have tennis elbow, request an appointment here. We’ll get you back in the swing of things as soon as possible.