Tennis elbow is a lateral elbow pain in the arm that may not necessarily be from tennis. However, 50 percent of tennis players develop it due to repetitive muscle use. Studies show that tennis elbow affects one to three percent of people in the United States. Often, they are between 30 to 50 years of age.
What Is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is the inflammation of the tendons joining your forearm muscles to the outer part of your elbow. It is also known as lateral epicondylitis or lateral elbow pain. It focuses the pain on the outer part of your arm.
Main Cause Of Tennis Elbow
The elbow is a joint comprising three bones. The humerus is the bone in the upper arm, while the radius and ulna are the two bones in your forearm. Some muscles in your forearm begin their course in the bony bumps at the base of your humerus. The outer part of the elbow has a bony bump called the lateral epicondyle. Your elbow joint is held together by tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
The main cause of tennis elbow is the strenuous or repetitive overuse of the forearm. Straining our forearm muscles can result in inflammation and tiny tears near the bony lump outside the elbow.
Symptoms Of Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow often results from overuse. The symptoms become apparent gradually as the pain worsens over weeks to months. You may have a tennis elbow if you have a burning sensation or pain that travels from the outer part of your elbow to your wrist. The sensation often worsens during the night. You may also experience pain when you bend or twist your arm, like when opening a jar or turning a doorknob.
Another symptom of tennis elbow is pain or stiffness when you extend your arm. As well as a tender-to-touch swollen elbow joint. If you have a weakened grip when you hold things like a pen, you may have a tennis elbow.
Your healthcare practitioner will physically examine your elbow stiffness, swelling, and pain. They may also ask about the activities that cause the pain. They may do one or more of the following tests to make a diagnosis:
- X-ray – They rule out broken bones or arthritis through this test.
- Electromyography (EMG) – Your doctor will measure your nerve and muscle electrical activity. They will do so to check if you have compressed nerves.
- Imaging tests – They will assess your muscle and tendon damage. Computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or ultrasound are ideal for this test.
Once your doctor diagnoses a tennis elbow, they will advise you to stop the activity or sport that could cause such strain on your arm. You may get a brace or splint to wear on the affected arm to help your tendons and muscles rest. The doctor may recommend an ultrasound treatment to help promote healing by breaking up scar tissue and increasing blood flow. Another option is chiropractic care, which will focus on a personalized treatment plan to help you recover from tennis elbow.
Most patients who get elbow tennis do not get surgery as the elbow gets better without a surgical procedure. But if the symptoms persist, your specialist may have to remove the damaged tissue through surgery.
For more about tennis elbow, visit Peak Performance + Wellness at our office in Davenport, Iowa. Call (608) 293-3195 to book an appointment today.