Tennis elbow involves pain or soreness on the exterior part of the elbow. This occurs if the tendons connecting the forearm muscles to the elbow are damaged. The ensuing pain can radiate down the arm up to the wrist. If the injury is not promptly treated, it can cause discomfort while performing simple tasks.
What are the possible causes?
In most cases, tennis elbow is usually due to overuse. This can develop from performing activities where the arm is repeatedly twisted which strains on the tendon. Small-sized tears develop that causes pain. Sustaining a direct strike to the exterior elbow can also damage the tendon.
The condition is common among individuals who play tennis but it can be caused by other activities that utilize the same muscles such as in painting or gardening. It is often the outcome of utilizing tools that is on the wrong side or using one incorrectly.
Take note that anyone can end up with tennis elbow, but usually affects individuals in their 40s.
Management of tennis elbow
Tennis elbow can be treatment at home with the following measures:
- Allow the affected arm to rest and avoid engaging in any activities that worsen the pain.
- Once pain arises, apply an ice pack for 10-15 minutes at a time several times throughout the day. Do not forget to place a towel or cloth between the skin and pack. Continue to use ice if it reduces the pain or you can utilize a warm, damp cloth or take warm baths if it helps.
- Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used if needed.
- Use a counter-force brace if there is a need to hold or twist something. This is a strap worn around the forearm right below the elbow. This can alleviate the pressure on the tendon and distribute force evenly in the arm.
Once the pain settles, the doctor can teach the individual rehabilitation exercises to strengthen and stretch the tendon. These exercises can be done at home to promote healing and preventing further injury to the tendon.
In case the symptoms do not settle after 6-8 weeks of treatment at home, the doctor might recommend a shot of corticosteroids. This can provide brief relief so that rehabilitation exercises can be started.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on tennis elbow is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage tendon injury due to tennis elbow by taking a standard first aid course with Kelowna First Aid.