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What is Tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common condition causing pain and tenderness on the outer elbow. Tennis elbow is a type of sports injury commonly seen in people who play tennis more often, hence the name Tennis elbow.

The tendons in the elbow region are damaged or injured, causing severe pain. In most cases, tennis elbow injuries occur due to the overuse of elbow tendons caused by repetitive movement of the forearm and wrists while playing sports. It is also seen in people who indulge in occupations where they have to do repetitive motions of their arms. People who are commonly affected by Tennis elbow are Tennis players, painters, plumbers, and carpenters.

Dr. Ratnakar Rao and his team have vast experience treating Tennis elbow and other sports injuries. We have successfully treated patients suffering from it with comprehensive and personalized care.

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What are the Common Causes of Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is caused by damage to the tendons in your arm that connect your muscles to your elbow bone. It is a painful condition that occurs due to repetitive movements of arms and wrists that results in inflammation of the tendons in the elbow. Prolonged use of muscles causes continuous muscle strain when contracted again and again. This results in tear or rupture of the connective tendons of the fore arm. Tennis elbow may result from doing following activities: playing tennis, typing, painting, weight lifting, cutting meat, knitting. Recent elbow injury from fall or by an accident may also cause Tennis elbow.


What are the signs and symptoms of Tennis elbow?

  • Pain and tenderness in and around your elbow.
  • Pain radiating towards upper and lower arm.
  • Swelling of the elbow.
  • Pain while holding and gripping objects.


What are the Risk Factors for Tennis Elbow?

Age: Tennis elbow can occur at any age, but 30 to 50 years is the common age group affected with tennis elbow.

Occupation: People whose occupation involves repetitive use of arms such as painters, plumbers, carpenters are more likely to develop Tennis elbow.

Sports : Playing sports especially those which involve repetitive movements of hands like tennis or badminton. Improper use of sports equipment, use of poor athletic techniques may also cause Tennis Elbow.


How to Diagnose Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow at initial stages can be diagnosed by asking symptoms and certain questions by your doctor. During the physical examination the doctor applies pressure in the affected area and asks you to move your arms, wrist and your fingers in different directions. Many times your physical exam and medical history will be enough to diagnose tennis elbow. But at times doctor may suggest you other diagnostic tests to visualize the injury and rule out any other conditions if present. The diagnostic tests suggested for tennis elbow include:

  • X_rays
  • Ultra sound
  • MRI_scan
  • CT_scan


How Tennis Elbow is Treated?

Tennis elbow can be conservatively treated at home by self care and by allowing the arm to rest. When home treatments doesn’t work, it is advised to visit a doctor. Depending on the severity of the injury the doctor may suggest you one of the following treatments:

Pain management:  Icing the elbow can reduce the swelling and pain.

Medication:  Using Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin helps in reducing pain and swelling.

Physical therapy and massage therapy: Performing certain exercises can reduce the stiffness of the elbow and increase its flexibility.

Elbow bracing : Using an elbow strap will prevent further strain to tendons.

Tennis Elbow Surgery: If a conservative treatment doesn’t alleviate your pain, orthopedic surgery is advised. In tennis elbow surgery the damaged part of the tendon is removed to ease pain and help you move your elbow easily. In treatment of Tennis elbow there are two different types of surgeries, they are: Open surgery and Arthroscopic surgery. 

 

Recovering from Tennis Elbow

While treatment can be successful, the recovery phase is crucial for regaining full function and preventing future flare-ups. The initial focus is on reducing inflammation and pain. This might involve medications, bracing, ice therapy, and activity modification.

Once the inflammation subsides, physical therapy becomes central. Exercises target the forearm muscles to improve strength, flexibility, and stability around the elbow joint.

Gradually reintroduce activities that caused the initial pain. This should be done cautiously, with proper form and technique, to prevent re-injury.

Tips for Optimal Recovery

Here are some tips to optimize your recovery from tennis elbow:

  • Follow your doctor’s or physical therapist’s instructions diligently.
  • Healing takes time. Take your time with the process and return to strenuous activities soon.
  • Pain is a warning sign. Stop activities that cause discomfort.
  • Maintain good posture to help distribute stress evenly across the joints, including the elbow.
  • Apply ice or heat therapy as recommended by your doctor.
  • Consider ergonomic modifications at work or home to minimize stress on the elbow.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

There isn’t a single “best” way to fix tennis elbow, as the most effective approach depends on the severity of your case.

  • Rest and avoid activities aggravating the pain, allowing the inflamed tissues to heal. Pain medications can help manage pain and inflammation. 
  • Applying ice packs wrapped in a towel to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times daily can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Most cases of tennis elbow improve with non-surgical treatments within 6-12 weeks with proper adherence to the treatment plan. If conservative measures fail, consult an orthopedic doctor. They can assess your situation, recommend the right treatment, and monitor your progress to ensure optimal healing and a return to pain-free activities.

Several natural approaches can be helpful alongside traditional treatment or for mild cases. Here are some options to consider:

  • Resting and applying ice packs wrapped in a towel to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day can help reduce pain and inflammation. This is a simple and effective natural remedy. 
  • Wearing a compression sleeve or bandage on your forearm can support and reduce stress on the inflamed tendons.
  • Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises for the forearm muscles can improve flexibility and stability around the elbow joint. Consulting a physical therapist can ensure you perform exercises safely and effectively.

If your pain persists or worsens despite natural remedies, consult an orthopedic doctor for diagnosis and the right treatment.

Lifting weights with tennis elbow is generally not recommended because certain exercises can aggravate the condition.

If you experience pain while weightlifting, immediately stop the exercise and consult an orthopedic doctor or physical therapist.

Remember, prioritizing proper healing and treatment is essential to fully recover from tennis elbow. Once you’re healed and pain-free, a healthcare professional can guide you on safely returning to weightlifting with modifications to protect your elbows.

A note from Impact Orthopedic Center:

Tennis elbow can sideline even the most dedicated athlete. But fear not! With early diagnosis, proper treatment, and a focus on rehabilitation, most people overcome tennis elbow and return to their favorite activities.

For athletes, regaining full arm use and pain-free movement is crucial. Physical therapy exercises tailored to your sport can help strengthen the muscles that support your elbow joint and improve flexibility, allowing you to perform throws, swings, or grips confidently.

Early intervention is key to preventing complications and ensuring a faster, more complete recovery.

Our team of the best sports medicine doctors in India utilizes the latest advancements in sports medicine to diagnose and treat your tennis elbow effectively. We work closely with you to create a personalized treatment plan that gets you back to the sports you love, stronger and pain-free. Book your appointment today.

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