What Is Tennis Elbow and What Are Its Treatment Options?

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Tennis tears at your elbow. A 2019 literature review found that tennis players report elbow overuse injuries 7.5 times more often than baseball players.

The repetitive swinging of a racket and running across a court can cause strains. Yet, many experienced athletes don’t know about the conditions they face.

Just what is tennis elbow, and how does tennis playing cause it? How can a doctor distinguish tennis elbow from another medical condition? How can you treat tennis elbow, including through modern therapies?

Answer these questions, and you can keep your elbows pain-free through many rounds of tennis. Here is your quick guide.

What Is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is a condition that affects the tendons in the elbow. Tendons are connective tissues that attach muscles to bones, allowing joints to move without straining themselves. The tendons can become inflamed with overuse, creating a problem.

The name suggests that symptoms are limited to the elbow, but a person may experience discomfort in their forearm or shoulder. The official names for the condition are “lateral elbow pain” and “lateral epicondylitis.”

Tennis elbow is common amongst tennis players. But anyone involved in intense sports or extensive physical labor can suffer from it.

Tennis Elbow Symptoms

Tennis elbow symptoms can occur with minimal warning. A person may fall on their hand, or they may experience pain after a normal workout.

The pain may be burning, or it may be a dull ache. When someone touches their muscles, they feel tender or hot. Pain is especially prominent when the person lifts their arm or bends it, especially when performing actions like holding a pen.

A person feels pain on the outside of their upper forearm, beneath the bend in their elbow. Pain can radiate down into their wrist or further up their arm.

Someone may also feel weakness in their arm. It may be hard to hold onto objects for long periods of time, even when the arm is resting on a table.

Potential Causes

Stressing any tissues repeatedly without rest will cause them to tear. The same applies to tendons in your arm. If a tennis player does not rest between sessions, they may develop tennis elbow.

Incorrectly holding objects can cause tennis elbow to happen sooner. Many people who swing a racquet do so while twisting their arms. This stresses the tendons.

Diagnosis

It can be hard to distinguish between tennis elbow and another problem like a muscle strain. The key is that the tennis elbow induces pain when a person extends their arm and hand.

Find a chair and stand behind it. Place your hands on the top of its back, pointing your palms downward and keeping your elbows straight. Try to pick up the chair with both hands.

If you feel pain on the outside of one or both elbows, you may have a tennis elbow. You should go to your doctor and get an X-ray to ensure you don’t have a bone fracture. You can also get an EMG to see if your nerves are damaged.

Tennis Elbow Treatment

There are many ways you can get treatment for your pain. Talk to your doctor about your different options and work together to find the right pain management course.

Tennis Elbow Stretches

It is important to rest your elbow after tendon damage. But after a certain point, too much rest can be harmful. You need to restore strength to your bones and tissues, which mild stretching can do.

You can start with a simple massage. Take your other hand and rub the painful area in a circular motion. Clench your fist and bend your fingers to encourage blood flow to your damaged tendons.

You can place an ice pack over your tendons, especially if you have a little swelling. Do not put ice directly on your skin, and do not leave the pack in place for longer than 15 minutes.

Extend your arm out with your palm facing down and your elbow straight. Then push your hand down until you feel a stretch up your forearm. Hold for 30 seconds and then release before completing two more cycles.

Tennis Elbow Brace

A brace can provide temporary support to your elbow. This may help you hold objects so you can get some tasks done at work.

But a brace is best when it is combined with a long rest period. It can relieve pressure on your elbow and allow the tendon and muscle fibers to realign themselves. Get your doctor’s advice before buying a particular brace.

Therapies

Advanced therapies are available for people who have extreme pain or chronic problems. Platelets are blood cell fragments that carry growth factors throughout the body. Plasma can transport platelets into injured areas and allow blood vessels to repair themselves.

Platelet-rich plasma therapy¬†(PRP)¬†involves taking a person’s blood and separating the platelets from it. A doctor then injects the platelets into the elbow, allowing a person to recover from torn tendons. PRP is effective, even in older adults.

Stem cells can provide new cells to growing organs and replace destroyed cells. Stem cell therapy involves taking a person’s stem cells and redirecting them into the elbow. It is just as effective as PRP, and it can provide permanent relief.

Know Where to Go For Your Elbow

People have many questions about elbow pain. What is tennis elbow? It is a searing pain or an ache that repeated motions cause.

What are its symptoms? Pain is the most significant one, though a person may feel muscle weakness.

How do doctors diagnose it? You can diagnose yourself by examining your symptoms and performing stretch tests.

How do doctors treat it? Some cases require little more than stretching and wrapping the elbow. But a person can receive PRP or stem cell therapy.

Don’t wait around with a throbbing elbow. RejuvenateYourHealth serves the Allentown area. Contact us today.