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Tennis elbow

Tennis elbow is a common term for a condition caused by overuse of arm, forearm, and hand muscles those results in elbow pain. You don't have to play tennis to get this, but the term came into use because it can be a significant problem for some tennis players.
Tennis elbow is caused by either abrupt or subtle injury of the muscle and tendon area around the outside of the elbow. Tennis elbow specifically involves the area where the muscles and tendons of the forearm attach to the outside bony area (called the lateral epicondyle) of the elbow. Your doctor may call this condition lateral epicondylitis. Another common term, "golfer's elbow," refers to the same process occurring on the inside of the elbow - what your doctor may call medial epicondylitis. Overuse injury can also affect the back or posterior part of the elbow as well.
Tennis elbow most commonly affects people in their dominant arm (that is, a right-handed person would experience pain in the right arm), but it can also occur in the nondominant arm or both arms.

What Are the Symptoms of Tennis Elbow?

Symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Pain slowly increasing around the outside of the elbow. Less often, pain may develop suddenly.
  • Pain is worse when shaking hands or squeezing objects.
  • Pain is made worse by stabilizing or moving the wrist with force. Examples include lifting, using tools, opening jars, or even handling simple utensils such as a toothbrush or knife and fork.

  • How Is Tennis Elbow Diagnosed?

    Tennis elbow cannot be diagnosed from blood tests and rarely by X-rays. Rather, it is usually diagnosed by the description of pain you provide to your doctor and certain findings from a physical exam.
    Since many other conditions can cause pain around the elbow, it is important that you see your doctor so the proper diagnosis can be made. Then your doctor can prescribe the appropriate treatment.
    Tennis elbow usually is successfully treated by medical means - such as physical therapy, forearm bracing to rest the tendons, topical anti-inflammatory gels, topical cortisone gels, and cortisone injections. It only rarely requires surgery.
    The type of treatment prescribed for tennis elbow will depend on several factors, including age, type of other drugs being taken, overall health, medical history, and severity of pain. The goals of treatment are to reduce pain or inflammation, promote healing, and decrease stressand abuse on the injured elbow.

    Treatment for tennis elbow

    The good news about treatment is that usually tennis elbow will heal on its own. You just need to give your elbow a rest and do what you can to speed up the healing. Types of treatment that help are:

  • Icing the elbow to reduce pain and swelling. Applying ice directly to the skin can cause burns just like heat can so take care to wrap the ice well in a towel first. Experts recommend doing this for 20-30 minutes every three to four hours, for two to three days, or until the pain is gone.
  • Using an elbow strap to protect the injured tendon from further strain.
  • Taking painkillers such as paracetamol or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin to help with pain and swelling. However, NASIDs can cause side effects such as stomach irritation so you should only use them as short courses, guided by your GP or specialist.
  • Performing a range of motion exercises to reduce stiffness and increase flexibility. Your doctor may recommend that you do these three to five times a day.
  • Having physiotherapy to strengthen and stretch the muscles.
  • Having injections of steroids or painkillers to temporarily ease some of the swelling and pain around the joint.
  • Shock wave therapy to help promote movement and relieve pain may sometimes be recommended.
  • Other therapies: acupuncture may help to relieve the pain.