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Tennis Elbow

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is a condition caused by inflammation of the tendons on the outer bony prominence (lateral epicondyle) of the elbow. Certain repetitive movements of the wrist can cause this condition. Tennis elbow can occur in anyone who strains the tendons of the forearm and is not limited to tennis players.

Tennis Elbow Causes

  • Any repetitive motion of the wrist, including tennis, hedge clipping, excessive use of a hammer or screwdriver, painting, or any activity that requires excessive constant gripping or squeezing can cause tennis elbow.
  • In the game of tennis, the following maneuvers can lead to tennis elbow:
    • One-handed backhand with poor form
    • A late forehand swing resulting in bending the wrist significantly
    • Snapping and turning the wrist while serving with full power

Tennis Elbow Symptoms and Signs

  • Tenderness on the outer bony part of the elbow
  • Morning stiffness of the elbow with persistent aching
  • Soreness in the forearm
  • Pain worse when grasping or holding an object

When to Seek Medical Care for Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow does not usually lead to serious problems. If the condition continues and is left untreated, however, loss of motion or loss of function of the elbow and forearm can develop.

Call your doctor if the following conditions develop:

  • Pain that limits your daily activity
  • Pain that lasts despite ice, resting, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers
  • Any weakness or numbness in the hand, which may mean you have another type of injury in the wrist or elbow

Diagnosis of Tennis Elbow

Your doctor may use any or all of the following to diagnose tennis elbow:

  • In taking your medical history, the doctor may ask you questions about your activity level, occupation, recent recreational activities, medications, and other medical problems.
  • During the physical exam, your doctor will feel your elbow and possibly other joints. Your nerves, muscles, bones, and skin are also examined.
  • X-ray images may be required if the symptoms suggest another problem in the elbow joint.
  • Nerve studies may be needed to look for entrapment of the radial nerve in the elbow joint (radial tunnel syndrome) if your symptoms continue despite aggressive treatment.
  • It is unlikely your doctor will need to perform blood tests, a CT scan, or an MRI to make the diagnosis, but these may be used to rule out other conditions in certain cases.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/17/2016

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Home Treatment

If you have tennis elbow, follow these simple steps to reduce pain and start tendon healing. A rehab program such as this will prevent further injury by making your arm muscles stronger.

  • Rest your fingers, wrist, and forearm muscles to allow your tendon to heal. Stop any activity that you think may be causing your elbow pain and soreness. Depending on the severity of tendon damage, you may have to avoid this activity for weeks to months.
  • As soon as you notice pain, use ice or cold packs for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, several times a day. Always put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. Keep using ice a long as it relieves pain. Or use a warm, moist cloth or take hot baths if they feel good. Do what works for you.
  • Wear a counterforce brace during activities that require grasping or twisting arm movements. A counterforce brace is a strap worn around your forearm just below your elbow. This brace may spread pressure throughout the arm instead of putting it all on the tendon. These braces are not a substitute for rehab exercises.
  • Try elevating your elbow to help ease pain and reduce swelling in your wrist or forearm.
  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation. NSAIDs come in pills and in a cream that you rub over the sore area. Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) can also help with pain.

SOURCE:
Healthwise


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Lateral Epicondylitis »

Lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, is a commonly encountered problem in orthopedic practice.

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