Tennis elbow (also known as lateral epicondylitis) is a type of strain injury that causes swelling in the tendons due to overusing of forearm muscles around the elbow joint. Several sportsmen and athletes between the age group of 30 to 50 years suffer from this painful condition. Tennis elbow causes pain while extending or straightening the arm.
Radius, ulna, and humerus (upper arm bone) are the bones that form your elbow joint. At the bottom of the humerus, there are bony bumps also known as epicondyles. The bony bump on the outer side of the elbow is known as the lateral epicondyle.
How is tennis elbow diagnosed?
Various medical professionals do a physical exam to diagnose tennis elbow. They will ask you whether you are a sportsman and which sports you play. They perform several tests and ask you to move your wrist, fingers, and elbow in different ways. Depending on the level of pain, they suggest imaging tests, MRI, and an X-ray. Countless doctors apply some pressure to the affected area during physical exams.
Common Causes of Tennis Elbow:
Knocking, overusing and banging of elbow can be the primary causes of tennis elbow. In most of the cases, a strain in the tendons and muscles in the forearm due to a strenuous activity can cause tennis elbow. While playing, there are plentiful maneuvers and repetitive wrist motions that can result in tennis elbow.
While hitting a backhand in tennis, the forearm muscles experience some stress and while hitting the ball, the stress repeatedly contracts. When you grip the racquet in a tight manner, the stress goes into the tendons, further, connecting the forearm muscle to the elbow. As a result of the consistent tugging, the tissue gets microscopic tears.
In some cases, a direct blow to the elbow results in swelling of the tendons.
Tennis elbow can stem from a wide range of activities including:
- Sporting activities that require throwing
- Work that involves excessive lifting or turning of the wrist
Professions and Hobbies that require Repetitive Arm Movements:
In addition, Carpentry, knitting, painting, and typing are the activities in which vigorous use of the forearm muscle is required.
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow:
Recurring pain on the outer area of the upper forearm is a common symptom. While lifting, bending, and twisting the arm, grabbing the objects, and writing, if you have severe pain just towards the wrist.
You may face difficulty in holding a cup, turning a doorknob, and shaking hands. When pain extends towards the wrist and forearm from the outer area of the elbow. When a mild elbow pain while shaking an object or opening a jar gets worse.
If you experience stiffness and mild discomfort on the outside of the upper forearm or in the back of your hand while holding a thing for long. Another common symptom of tennis elbow is the soreness of the forearm muscles.
How To Prevent Tennis Elbow:
In order to prevent tennis elbow from recurring or developing, you can take some measures. First of all, you need to avoid exercises that place stress on your tendons. Do a proper warm up and stretching before playing sports that require repetitive arm movements.
Don’t use your elbow and wrist more than the rest of your arm. You can get some coaching advice for the techniques that can help to prevent tennis elbow. You can boost the grip size of racquets to avoid putting a strain on tendons. While using your arm, you can wear a tennis elbow splint. Perform activities that enhance the strength of your forearm muscles.
There are self-care measures, over-the-counter medications, and therapy that can help. Most of the doctors recommend the victims for surgery in severe cases.
The physical therapists can make you aware of exercises that stretch and fortify the muscles of your forearm. Eccentric exercises can strengthen the extensor muscles in the forearm. You can reduce stress on the injured tissue with a forearm strap or brace.
Exercises That Help To Prevent Tennis Elbow:
Several exercises play a pivotal role in preventing tennis elbow. Here are the names and steps to do these exercises:
1. Wrist Turn
The initial step is to bend your elbow at a 90 degree angle
The next step is extending the hand outwards with the palm facing up
Twist your wrist
For 5 seconds, keep in that position
Do the same nine times more
Complete two sets of 10 repetitions
2. Elbow bend
For this exercise, you need to stand straight
Lower your arm to one side
Bend the arm in an upward direction till it touches the shoulders
Keep in that position for 15-30 seconds
Repeat this exercise nine times
3. Wrist Extensor Flex
Raise the arm in front of your body
Bend the wrist in the upward direction with the palm facing down
Pull your fingers towards your body gently with other hand
Keep in this position for 15-30 seconds
Re-straighten the wrist
Repeat it two times
Complete two more sets of 3 repetitions
4. Wrist Extensor Stretch
Raise the arm in front of your body
Bend the wrist downwards with the palm facing up
Pull the stretching hand back towards the body with other hand
Keep in this position for 15 to 30 seconds
Straighten the wrist
Repeat the same twice
Finish two more sets of 3 repetitions
5. Wrist Lift, palm up
Grip a small dumbbell or a tin of food that is lightweight
Bend the elbow at a 90 degree angle
With the palm facing up extend the hand outwards
Bend the wrist upwards to the body
Keep in this position for 5 seconds before releasing slowly
Do the same nine times
6. Fist Squeeze
Place a rolled-up towel, tennis ball or sock in the palm
The next step is to grip the towel or ball with fingers and form a fist
For 10 seconds, squeeze it in a tight manner
Keep doing it nine times more
7. Wrist turn with weight
This wrist turn is quite similar to the wrist turn mentioned above. The only difference is you can grip a tin of food or small dumbbell that is lightweight.
8. Fist clench
For Fist clench, towel and table are primarily required. This exercise is excellent for forearm muscles.
Roll and hold a towel in the right hand
Then place it on a table
For 10 seconds, squeeze the towel
Just Release and do the same for at least 10 times
Repeat all the steps with the left hand
9. Wrist Extension
Hold a hand weight in the right hand and sit in a chair
Use a table or your thigh to lean the forearm
Bend the wrist upwards by keeping the forearm in place
Lift the hand weight as much as you can
Lower the weight back down gradually
Do the same 5 times
10. Supination with a dumbbell
2 pound dumbbell and table are primarily required for this exercise.
Start it by sitting in a chair and make sure your forearm rests on a table.
The hand and wrist should be above the edge of the table
With a 2 pound dumbbell having its one side in palm, rotate the hand and wrist
Face up your palm towards the roof or ceiling
For 5 to 10 seconds, keep holding its end position
Rotate the hand back up to straighten the dumbbell
Rotate your wrist as well with the palm facing down
Keep in this position for a few seconds
Rotate your hand backward to point the weight to the ceiling
Keep doing the same for 10-15 times
11. Rest Your Elbow
It is advisable to rest your elbow but not for many days. Your arm muscle may become feeble and the joint may stiffen if you rest it in a complete manner for many days. With regular breaks, you can continue doing activities that put less strain on the damaged muscles. While performing activities, make sure that you are wearing a splint, strap or clasp around your forearm.
12. Wrist flexion
Hold a dumbbell in hand while sitting in a chair, keep the palm facing up and rest the elbow on your knee
The next step is to Flex and curl the wrist towards your body
Go back to starting position and do the same 10 times on each side
Isolate the movement towards the wrist and keep your entire arm still
13. Towel Twist:
Take a towel in both hands while sitting in a chair and relax the shoulders
Twist the towel in opposite direction with both hands
The next thing you need to do is wringing the water out
Twist the towel 10 times and repeat the same in other direction as well
Living with tennis elbow
Various people recover from tennis elbow once the treatment is done. To avert them from recurring, a brace or physical therapy can be effective.
When To Call A Doctor:
If there is a bulge or lump on arm
If the pain does not reduce
If there is swelling or reddishness on the affected area
If you can’t move your arm properly