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Tennis Elbow (cont.)

What Increases Your Risk

Risk factors for tennis elbow include:

  • Activities that involve repeated movements of the forearm, wrist, and fingers. This includes grasping and twisting arm movements done in jobs (such as carpentry, plumbing, or working on an assembly line), daily activities (such as lifting objects or gardening), and sports (such as racquet sports, throwing sports, or swimming).
  • Improper techniques while doing certain movements, such as gripping a handle or twisting an object.
  • Improper equipment for work, daily activities, and sports, such as using a hammer or a tennis racquet with a grip that is the wrong size for your hand.
  • Age. Tennis elbow is most common in people who are in their 40s.
  • History of tendon injuries. Some people seem susceptible to tendon injury, based on a history of various tendon injuries such as rotator cuff disorders.

If you think that your workplace activity is causing elbow pain or soreness, talk to your human resources department for information on other ways of doing your job, equipment changes, or other job assignments. For more information, see the topic Office Ergonomics.

When To Call a Doctor

Call your doctor immediately if you had an injury to your elbow and:

  • You have severe elbow pain.
  • You cannot move your elbow normally.
  • Your elbow looks deformed.
  • Your elbow begins to swell within 30 minutes of the injury.
  • You have signs of damage to the nerves or blood vessels. These include:
    • Numbness, tingling, or a "pins-and-needles" sensation below the injury.
    • Pale or bluish skin.
    • The injured arm feeling colder to the touch than the uninjured one.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Pain when grasping, twisting, or lifting objects.
  • Work-related problems caused by your elbow pain.
  • Elbow pain after 2 weeks of home treatment or if treatment is making your elbow pain worse.

Watchful Waiting

Watchful waiting is when you and your doctor watch your symptoms to see if your health improves on its own. If it does, no treatment is needed. If your symptoms don't get better or they get worse, then it's time to take the next treatment step.

Home treatment often helps mild tennis elbow pain. You may want to try resting the elbow and applying ice or heat several times a day for 1 to 2 weeks before you call your doctor.

Who To See

For evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment of tennis elbow, you may see:

You may be referred to a:

  • Physical therapist (for stretching and strengthening exercises).
  • Tennis or other sports instructor (for training in sports).
  • Specialist in job-related safety or ergonomics (for work-related activities).

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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