Although the term “tennis elbow” is often associated with athletes who play tennis and other sports, just about anyone can develop this condition. It comes with overuse of a certain forearm muscle called the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB). When the ECRB becomes damaged, it’s due to a weakening of the muscle which results in small tears appearing in the tendon that connects the ECRB to the lateral epicondyle.
The most common symptoms that come with tennis elbow are pain and inflammation, and the more you perform the same repetitions of motion with the forearm, the more likely the wear and tear of the muscle can worsen and become more uncomfortable.
While it may not be possible to fully prevent tennis elbow by limiting your movements, you can take some very effective steps to treat it by first understanding how it can be developed by sufferers and then implementing treatment options to help you beat it altogether, as recommended by the office of Sanjay Desai MD.
Causes of Tennis Elbow
The development of tennis elbow in sufferers comes from the position of the ECRB on the human arm. Those repetitive movements that can lead to the condition are a result of the elbow performing its very normal function of bending and straightening. However, when those actions occur, the muscle is rubbed against small bumps on the bone of the arm. This is the source of the wear and tear that can lead to the gradual development of tennis elbow.
Athletes are often likely to suffer this condition because of the actions of the arm that are required in playing their chosen sport. For tennis, the elbow works in repetitive fashion when hitting the ball across over the net. But this condition can be developed by just about anyone who performs the same action with their forearm, time and again. This can be anyone from plumbers to car mechanics to caterers.
You can sit in a cubicle working on a computer keyboard for eight hours a day and still develop a pretty painful case of tennis elbow.
Age is also a contributing factor to whether someone develops tennis elbow or not. Studies have found that adults between the ages of 30 and 55 are more likely to develop this very painful condition, especially if they play sports and tennis in particular. There are certain other additional risk factors that can increase this risk for tennis players such as poor stroke technique and using the wrong equipment during gameplay.
Six Tips to Treat Tennis Elbow
If you or someone you know is suffering tennis elbow, there are some effective steps you can take to help alleviate the pain and discomfort that come with this condition.
First things first, confirm that you are indeed suffering from tennis elbow and determine what the cause of it may be in your life. For athletes, it may pretty straightforward as to the cause of the issue. But if you don’t play tennis or participate in sports that might cause this condition, you may want to evaluate your daily routine to pinpoint the root cause instead.
Next, see your doctor and have some tests performed to help rule out any other potential sources of the problem, such as arthritis or underlying problems that are contributing to the issue like a herniated disk or a nerve issue. These tests may require X-rays, an MRI, or an electromyography. Each of these can be extremely helpful in your diagnosis.
Performing a variety of stretching exercises of the forearm muscle can be quite effective in loosening up the ECRB. Tightness of the forearm muscle can lead to undue stress and tension on the tendon connecting the ECRB and the lateral epicondyle. These exercises are especially useful for reducing the impact of tennis elbow in the early stages of the condition, sometimes reversing the effects entirely.
One of the best ways to help reduce the effects of tennis elbow is through blood flow. So a deep tissue massage of the forearm can increase necessary blood flow as well as reduce any scar tissue that might have built up and along the tendon in the initial stages of the condition.
4. Reduced Pressure
Part of the pain and discomfort you are feeling is due to the tendon being overwhelmed from excessive amounts of undue pressure. Wearing a brace on your forearm can help to alleviate that pressure and reduce discomfort rather quickly.
5. Reconsider Cortisone
While many sufferers may turn to cortisone injections to help their symptoms, too many steroidal injections can actually cause more damage and increase the risks of further pain and discomfort.
6. Topical Anti-Inflammatories
Instead of getting cortisone injections, consider a topical prescription-based cream to deal with your symptoms. These can include certain ingredients such as lidocaine or gabapentin which are very useful for reducing the painful symptoms that come with tennis elbow.