Doctors first identified tennis elbow (or lateral epicondylitis) more than 100 years ago. Today nearly half of all tennis players will suffer from this disorder at some point. Interestingly though, tennis players actually account for less than 5 percent of all reported cases making the term for this condition something of a misnomer.
There are 2 additional strain related conditions which are often mistaken for Tennis Elbow. These being Golfer's Elbow & Bursitis. Before we delve into the details of what Tennis Elbow actually is and options that are available for relieving & preventing the pain...let's look at the distinguishing characteristics of each of these 3 ailments.
Symptoms Of Tennis Elbow
The damage that tennis elbow incurs consists of tiny tears in a part of the tendon and in muscle coverings. After the initial injury heals, these areas often tear again, which leads to hemorrhaging and the formation of rough, granulated tissue and calcium deposits within the surrounding tissues. Collagen, a protein, leaks out from around the injured areas, causing inflammation. The resulting pressure can cut off the blood flow and pinch the radial nerve, one of the major nerves controlling muscles in the arm and hand.
Tendons, which attach muscles to bones, do not receive the same amount of oxygen and blood that muscles do, so they heal more slowly. In fact, some cases of tennis elbow can last for years, though the inflammation usually subsides in 6 to 12 weeks.
Many medical textbooks treat tennis elbow as a form of tendonitis, which is often the case, but if the muscles and bones of the elbow joint are also involved, then the condition is called epicondylitis. However, if you feel pain directly on the back of your elbow joint, rather than down the outside of your arm, you may have bursitis, which is caused when lubricating sacs in the joint become inflamed. If you see swelling, which is almost never a symptom of tennis elbow, you may want to investigate other possible conditions, such as arthritis, infection, gout or a tumor.
Relief Of Tennis Elbow
The best way to relieve tennis elbow is to stop doing anything that irritates your arm â a simple step for the weekend tennis player, but not as easy for the manual laborer, office worker, or professional athlete.
The most effective conventional and alternative treatments for tennis elbow have the same basic premise: Rest the arm until the pain disappears, then massage to relieve stress and tension in the muscles, and exercise to strengthen the area and prevent reinjury. If you must go back to whatever caused the problem in the first place, be sure to warm up your arm for at least 5 to 10 minutes with gentle stretching and movement before starting any activity. Take frequent breaks.
Conventional medicine offers an assortment of treatments for tennis elbow, from drug injections to surgery, but the pain will never go away completely unless you stop stressing the joint. Re-injury is inevitable without adequate rest.
For most mild to moderate cases of tennis elbow, aspirin or ibuprofen will help address the inflammation and the pain while you are resting the injury, and then you can follow up with exercise and massage to speed healing.
For stubborn cases of tennis elbow your doctor may advise corticosteroid injections, which dramatically reduce inflammation, but they cannot be used long-term because of potentially damaging side effects.
Another attractive option for many sufferers, especially those who prefer to not ingest medication orally, is the application of an appropriate and effective topical ointment. CT Cream with A.C.P. was specifically designed to reduce inflammation and does so by taking advantage of well known elements Arnica, Choline and Vitamin B6.
If rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and a stretching routine fail to cure your tennis elbow, you may have to consider surgery, though this form of treatment is rare (fewer than 3 percent of patients). One procedure is for the tendon to be cut loose from the epicondyle, the rounded bump at the end of the bone, which eliminates stress on the tendon but renders the muscle useless. Another surgical technique involves removing so-called granulated tissue in the tendon and repairing tears.
Even after you feel you have overcome a case of tennis elbow, be sure to continue babying your arm. Always warm up your arm for 5 to 10 minutes before starting any activity involving your elbow. And if you develop severe pain after use anyway, pack your arm in ice for 15 to 20 minutes and call your doctor.
To prevent tennis elbow:
Caution! To prevent a relapse:
Call Your Doctor If....
Â© 1998-2000 Biomax Health Products, Inc.
The information on this website is general in nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subject matter covered. It is not a substitute for medical advice and you should always consult a trained professional practising in the area of sports medicine in relation to any injury. You use or rely on information on this website wholly at your own risk and no party involved in the production of this website accepts any responsibility for the information contained on it or your use of that information.
Last Update : 06 November, 2002
Copyright Â© 2001-2006 Ertan Patir