tennis elbow pain

Tennis Elbow: Not Just from Tennis

If you are an active person, or enjoy playing sports, you are automatically more prone to injury. Due to overuse, trauma, and excessive stress, our musculoskeletal system – made up of tendons, ligaments, bone, muscles, nerves, and connective tissues –  can experience exhaustion and irritation. This is especially true for the hands and elbows, where repetition or whipping motions can lead to injury. 

If the outer part of your elbow hurts and is tender to your touch, especially when you grip or lift objects, you may have a condition called tennis elbow. Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a repetitive strain injury (RSI), that occurs when the tendons in the forearm bone to the outer part of the elbow become weak due to extra stress placed on the arm, forearm, and hand muscles.

With a condition called tennis elbow, you might think that it only happens to tennis players, right? The answer is no, as tennis elbow is nothing more than a fancy name for a painful condition that is experienced by people every year. But yes, tennis players are certainly susceptible to this injury based on the repetition and force of the swings involved, but this is very similar to other sports.

Anyone that participates in vigorous activities requiring repetitive use of their hands, elbow, arm, or wrist is at risk of developing tennis elbow. In fact, it can be entirely unrelated to sports, and may be associated with repetitive motions at work, or from a hobby like gardening. 

In fact, while this condition earned its name because hitting tennis balls around was the original main cause, these days tennis elbow is now most commonly caused by using the computer. As well, carpenters, contractors, athletes, musicians, cooks, and factory workers, who constantly are using their arms and hands, are all susceptible to the same kinds of risk for developing the condition, so don’t write it off simply because you don’t play tennis or any other sport.

If you may be experiencing tennis elbow, your best bet is to seek attention from a doctor. Medications may help, but they tend to only be a temporary pain reliever. Fortunately, surgery is not necessary to treat most cases of tennis elbow, and only extreme cases will need it. The following treatments are far more common and usually effective: 

·       Physical therapy, which utilizes exercises to stretch and strengthen your forearm muscles

·       Durable Medical Equipment (DME), including bracing to stabilize the elbow

·       Cold and hot therapy to relieve pain and inflammation

·       Anti-inflammatory medications

·       Steroid and cortisone injections to relieve pain

·       Resting the area for a while to let inflammation go down

Take this advice with a grain of salt, however, as you should always seek an orthopedic doctor for a thorough exam to rule out any serious injury or condition first. If you are experiencing pain and discomfort in your hands, elbow, or another joint, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online