Tennis elbow also known as Lateral Epicondylitis, is a common cause of elbow pain. Despite the name, it does not just affect tennis players. It effects around 3% of the population and is most associated with work-relate activities, although racquet sports players are more prone to the condition and account for approximately 5% of all sufferers. Tennis elbow is equally as common in men and women, peaking in occurrence between the ages of 30 and 50.
Tennis elbow is characterised by pain over the outer side of the elbow, which may radiate down the forearm.
It usually beings with inflammation of the extensor tendons of the forearm as they attach to the Humerus (upper arm) bone, just above the elbow joints. This inflammation is typically caused by prolonged gripping activities such as hammering, driving screws, weight lifting, playing certain instruments, canoeing, driving and racquet sports.
Unlike many other injuries, it is very easy to diagnose. It can be diagnosed when there is pain when the lateral part of the elbow is touched and the patient is positive on a couple of easy diagnostic tests. The elbow pain is pain worsened by gripping activities and in some cases simple things like turning a door handle can hurt.
Tennis elbow is an inflammatory condition, so a short course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, prescribed by a doctor would be the first step to treating tennis elbow. Anti-inflammatory gel can also be helpful to relieve tennis elbow pain. Some doctors may even inject the area with a corticosteroid, which helps to settle down the inflammation. Ice packs are also a cheap and effective treatment for tennis elbow. Ice packs should be applied to the painful area for ten minutes every couple of hours (never apply ice directly to the skin).
In addition, Physio and Massage treatments can be great to speed along recovery. A well structured eccentric exercise programme can be key to overcoming this injury!
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