Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis, is a condition of elbow caused by the repetitive injury or overuse. It is caused by overuse injury of the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle. It is a painful condition and could result in serious injury if left untreated. This results in inflammation and pain in the lateral side of the elbow and weak grip strength also found in many. Pain in your elbow can also spread to your forearm and wrist. Not surprisingly, playing tennis can cause this condition however; other sports can also put you at tennis elbow risk.
Your elbow is made up of primarily three bones: upper arm bone (humerus) and other two bones in your forearm (radius and ulna). Epicondyles are the bony bumps located at the bottom of humerus bone. The other bump is located on the outside of the elbow and is called lateral epicondyle. The tendons which are usually involved in tennis elbow are called Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB).
- Overuse: Studies have shown that tennis elbow condition arises due to the damage of a particular forearm muscle. ECRB tendons help to stabilize your wrist when the elbow is straight. This often happens with athletes during a tennis stroke. With time the ECRB is weakened due to elbow overuse which causes a microscopic tear in tendons.
- Activities: Tennis elbow condition is not only limited to athletes only. The people who are engaged in heavy or recreational works are also under the danger of tennis elbow. Painters, carpenters and plumbers are more prone to tennis elbow conditions.
- Age: Most of the people between the ages 30 to 50 suffer from tennis elbow conditions. Although anyone can get tennis elbow if they work in high-risk conditions.
Tennis elbow symptoms don’t develop too early. Symptoms develop gradually with time. In most of the cases, the pain begins slowly and worsens over weeks and months. The symptoms become worse with forearm activities such as shaking hands, holding a racquet or turning a wrench.
Signs and symptoms of tennis elbow include:
- Weak grip strength of hand.
- Pain and tenderness at outer side of elbow.
- Burning sensation outside of your elbow
Approximately 80% to 90% of tennis elbow conditions can be easily treated with non-surgical treatment.
- Rest: This is the very first step to recover your tennis elbow. You need to give rest to your arm. You need to stop participating in sports activities till you are fully recovered from the condition. A supportive brace has to be worn for 4 to 8 weeks to give the elbow desired rest.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines: Medicines like Aspirin, Ibuprofen helps to reduce pain and swelling.
- Physical Therapy: Exercises are helpful in strengthening your muscles. Your doctor can also perform ice massage, ultrasound or muscle-stimulating techniques to improve your muscle healing.
- PRP Injection - Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection is an advanced and evidence-based treatment option for tennis elbow treatment. They help in speeding up the healing process. PRP is prepared from the patient’s own blood which contains high number of proteins (growth factors) which ultimately promotes fast healing of torn ligaments and tendons.