Lateral Epicondylitis also called Tennis Elbow is a painful condition of the elbow that is caused due to overuse or repetitive movement. The pain is usually experienced on the outer portion of the elbow where the tendons of the forearm are attached to it. It is mostly caused by overuse injury of the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle. This results in inflammation and pain in the lateral side of the elbow and weak grip strength also found in many. Pain in your elbow can also spread to your forearm and wrist. While a certain amount of tennis players are affected, it also impacts people from other fields of work.
Tennis elbow occurs due to overuse which results in too much strain on the tendons. When we perform activities involving a repetitive motion of the hands or wrists, our muscles suffer microscopic damage or tears. These tears cause pain which can spread to the forearm as well due to increased strain on the arm.
The main cause of tennis elbow is evident from the name itself; however, there are other sports and occupations as well, which result in this condition. According to research, tennis causes a relatively small amount of the total cases of lateral epicondylitis. People who play tennis, badminton, and squash, or people who are carpenters, plumbers, and painters, can easily develop this condition over time.
This condition is more prominent in people between the ages of 30 to 50. Moreover, people who have to constantly perform the same movements with their hands such as holding a brush, painting minor details, and using tools repetitively, are more prone to straining their muscles and experiencing pain and inflammation.
Your physician will conduct a physical exam and will ask you to perform certain movements to determine the site and cause of pain. He might apply pressure on the location of pain and swelling to confirm the symptoms.
He will also go through your medical records and might also suggest imaging tests to rule out any other condition of the elbow.
You can apply a cold compress and take over-the-counter medicines to reduce swelling and pain respectively. However, if the pain persists, and self-care measures do not work, you should consult a doctor.
Your doctor will recommend physical therapy for healing and strengthening the elbow and forearm. Your physical therapist will devise a course of action for your recovery and teach you certain exercises and movements that will slowly restore strength and mobility. While mild exercises for tennis elbow pain help in regaining the flexibility of the muscles, activities, and movements that caused this condition in the first place should be completely stopped. A forearm strap or a brace can be of great use to reduce the chances of further injury by preventing unwanted movements. Therapy is usually accompanied by NSAIDs to tackle the pain associated with this condition.
Other than these your doctor may suggest local steroid injection alongside therapy if the pain is persistent. This is done to reduce the inflammation at the insertion of common wrist extensors at the lateral humeral epicondyle. Usually, only one injection is required and is an OPD procedure. In a few cases, PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) Injections are suggested. It is an advanced and evidence-based treatment option for tennis elbow. PRP is prepared from the patient’s own blood which contains a high amount of proteins (growth factors) which ultimately promotes fast healing of torn ligaments and tendons. PRP help in speeding up the healing process.
Usually, Non-Surgical Multidisciplinary treatment works best in the tennis elbow.
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