Lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, is a painful condition that causes small tears on your forearm muscles. It is primarily a result of overuse or repeated wrist and arm motions. As the name may suggest, tennis elbow is standard in athletes, but this condition can affect anyone. Individuals whose jobs require repetitive wrist and arm motions like carpenters, painters, butchers, and plumbers are more likely to have Houston tennis elbow. The pain of the tennis elbow outside your elbow can also radiate down the forearm when you lift or bend your arm.
Causes of tennis elbow
Tennis elbow is an overuse injury that occurs due to repetitive motions of the forearm muscles. You use these muscles to straighten or raise your wrist and hand. Constant use of these muscles stresses the tissue, causing micro-tears in the tendons near the bony lump outside your elbow. Playing tennis involves repeated arm use, making it a common cause of this painful condition. But a tennis elbow can result from many other common arm motions, including:
- Cutting up meat
- Using plumbing equipment
- Repetitive use of the computer mouse
Risk factors for tennis elbow
Various factors make you more susceptible to this overuse injury. They include:
- Occupation. You are more likely to develop a tennis elbow if your job requires repetitive use of your arm or wrist. Examples of people with jobs that involve constant arm movement include cooks, butchers, plumbers, carpenters, and painters.
- Age. Tennis elbow can affect anyone regardless of age, but this injury is common among adults aged between 30 and 50.
- Certain sports. Participation in racket sports increases your risk of developing a tennis elbow. The above is especially true if you employ poor stroke techniques.
Preventing tennis elbow
Preventing tennis elbow may not be easy, especially if you have a job that requires repeated arm and wrist movement. If you already have this overuse injury, you can prevent it from worsening by not putting extra stress on the affected muscles. If you play a sport like tennis that causes repeated strain on your elbow joint, consider changing your technique.
Treatment for tennis elbow
Most of the time, the symptoms of a tennis elbow improve without the need for medical treatment. Over-the-counter pain medications and self-care measures like rest and cold compresses may be enough to alleviate the symptoms. If the pain persists, your doctor may recommend therapy and, in severe cases, surgery.
If the injury is related to a sport, your doctor may refer you to an expert to evaluate your playing techniques. A sports specialist can help you will the best steps to minimize stress on the injured muscles. You may also need physical therapy to stretch and strengthen your forearm muscles. Wearing a forearm brace or strap will help reduce the stress on the injured tissue.
Your doctor may also recommend other procedures like Botox or platelet-rich plasma injections. Piercing the damaged tendons multiple times (dry needling) can also be helpful. If you still have pain after six to 12 months of extensive non-operative treatment, you may discuss surgery with your doctor.
Consult your healthcare provider at J. Michael Bennett, MD, PA, to learn more about tennis elbow.