Despite its name, tennis elbow does not occur only in tennis players. Rather, it is due to tendinopathy (chronic tendon changes) of the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) tendon and it usually occurs due to repetitive elbow and wrist motions. Males and females are equally affected by this condition and it is commonly found in persons aged 30 to 50 years of age.
With the tennis elbow, pain occurs over the outer bony prominence of the elbow and it may hurt when you press on that area. Pain can occur with bending the wrist up and down repetitively, or when one turns the forearm inward and outward (i.e. palm down and palm up position) repetitively. When the elbow is fully straight, extending the wrist (i.e. bending the wrist upwards with palm facing down) will reproduce pain at the elbow.
If pain occurs after trauma or fall, it is important to make sure that it is not due to other conditions such as a fracture. Bruising or swelling are also symptoms that suggest conditions other than tennis elbow. Pain occurring at night that wakes you from sleeping is unusual in tennis elbow and needs further investigation while pain that is burning in nature suggests a possible nerve problem rather than tennis elbow.
Avoid further repetitive overuse of the wrist and try to improve your workstation and computer ergonomics. Application of ice to the painful area as well as over-the-counter pain medication can also be helpful.
An elbow brace strap applied to the forearm (below, not at the painful area) may also help to reduce the forces on the extensor tendons and provide some relief during daily activities.
Additionally, stretching of the wrist extensor muscles can also help. This can be done by bending the wrist downwards towards the palm while keeping the elbow straight. Do this stretch for 30 seconds, around three times a day.
Following treatment, it is important to gradually return to normal activity. It is also important to reduce the risk of recurrence by ensuring that you do not start unaccustomed levels of activity with repeated wrist extension, such as painting the house. Do take frequent short breaks when doing strenuous activities.
Physiotherapists are able to teach you a stretching and strengthening exercises. They can also help by taping the elbow to relieve the symptoms. Additionally, if your condition is related to biomechanical errors in your sport, they can also help to assess and correct your technique.
Doctors can help by giving a corticosteroid injection to the region, which may provide short term relief. Symptoms may also be relieved by the use of extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT), or via injection of autologous concentrated plasma (ACP).
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