The phrase “tennis elbow” is more of a blanket statement. It is used to describe the pain that one might experience on the upper part of the forearm and elbow. This pain is due in part to inflammation of the tendon, as well as inflammation of the bony area on the outer part of the elbow, known as the lateral epicondyle.
Typically pain will occur due to overuse of a tendon in the elbow known as the common extensor tendon. This particular tendon is involved when making a backswing with a tennis racquet, thus the name of the condition.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Tennis Elbow?
The common symptoms of tennis elbow are as follows:
- Pain experienced on the outside of the elbow – this pain has the ability to travel up and down the arm and can be excruciating.
- Weakness in the wrist.
- Outside elbow tenderness.
- Feeling pain when bending the arm or lifting it.
- Having a difficult time fully extending the forearm.
- Feeling pain when carrying, lifting or gripping an item.
- Feeling discomfort and pain that lasts for as little as three weeks and potentially lasts for years if it goes untreated.
What Are the Main Causes of Tennis Elbow?
People can suffer from tennis elbow for a number of reasons. Some of the main causes of this condition include:
- Repeatedly overusing the area when it is already injured.
- Moving the wrist in a forceful motion.
- Repeatedly hitting a backhand shot while playing racquet sports.
- Repeatedly hitting a backhand shot while playing golf.
These issues will cause the muscle on the outer part of a person’s elbow to experience a considerable amount of tension. When this tension happens, the tendon or muscle could easily tear.
Interestingly, 95% of the people that suffer from tennis elbow do not actually play the sport.
How Can a Physical Therapist Treat Tennis Elbow?
First, the physical therapist will do employ modalities to help reduce the inflammation. They will recommend that you rest your wrist as often as possible. It’s also important to ice the injured area for the first two or three days, and if the inflammation persists then you should ice it longer.
Finally, the physical therapist will examine and treat the elbow and forearm muscles. This will help increase circulation and improve the strength of the elbow overall.