Tennis elbow (or lateral epicondylitis -- lat. epicondylitis lateralis humeri) is a condition where the outer part of the elbow becomes painful and tender, usually as a result of a specific strain or overuse. While it is called tennis elbow, it should be noted that it is by no means restricted to tennis players. Anyone who does a lot of work involving lifting at the elbow or repetitive movements at the wrist is susceptible to tennis elbow. more...
With tennis elbow, the common extensor tendon origin at the lateral epicondyle of the humerus is irritated, inflamed, damaged and potentionally torn.
In the case of tennis elbow, most tennis players with harder, more forceful serves feel gradually worsening pain after ten to twenty serves have been hit. The stress on the elbow can be great due to the centrifugal force applied to it. This force can, over a short period of minutes, develop into the specific problem known as tennis elbow.
- Outer part of elbow (lateral epicondyle) tender to touch.
- Lateral elbow pain radiating to extensor aspect of the forearm.
- Movements of the elbow or wrist hurt, especially lifting movements.
- Exquiste tenderness to touch, and elbow pain on simple actions such as lifting up a cup of coffee.
- Pain usually subsides overnight.
- If no treatment given, can become chronic and more difficult to erradicate.
Rest and ice are the treatment of choice. Stretches and stengthining excercises are essential to prevent re-irritation of the tendon. Acupuncture has been proven to be beneficial. With physiotherapy, Ultrasound can be used to reduce the inflamation. Manual therapy (a form of physiotherapy) is an important part of the treatment; it helps to relieve the muscle spasm and helps to stretch out the tightened tissues.
As a last resort, intra-articular steroid injections can give symptomatic relief for a period of time. Splints may be helpful if the tendon is torn. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may reduce pain, and inflamation. If conservative measures fail, release of the common extensor origin may be helpful.
Although not necessarily founded in clinical research, the tennis player's treatment of choice is frequent icing for inflammation, and taking ibuprofen, itself an anti-inflamatory agent.
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