Tennis Elbow – Its Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Tennis Elbow – Its Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow is a condition where you experience pain in the elbow and arm. This happens due to the swelling of tendons in these areas. These tendons connect the muscles of the lower arm to the bone. Despite the name tennis elbow, it is not only athletes who experience this pain. Anyone who might have not even been to a tennis court can still suffer from tennis elbow.

Before we get to the symptoms and diagnosis of tennis elbow, let’s discuss some of the common causes of the condition:

  • A person suffers from tennis elbow when they are involved in any activities that involve repetitive gripping movements of the arms. The repetitive use of the thumb and first two fingers may contribute to tennis elbow.
  • It is one of the most common reasons people have to seek medical help for elbow pain. The common age for this condition to pop up is post 40 years.
  • The symptoms and diagnosis of tennis elbow depend on the lifestyle of the person suffering from the condition.
  • People with jobs and hobbies such as carpentry, typing, painting, raking, and knitting or any activity that requires repetitive arm movements can suffer from the symptoms of tennis elbow.
  • Some of the most common sports that cause tennis elbow include tennis, racquetball, squash, fencing, and weightlifting. Basically, any movement that causes tugging and eventually leads to microscopic tears in the tissue causes tennis elbow.

Symptoms of tennis elbow
People with tennis elbow usually experience pain and tenderness on the bony knob just outside the elbow. It is the same bone where the tendons connect the upper and lower arms. Although the pain might radiate in the upper and lower arms, the actual damage is in the tendons of the elbow.

The person is likely to feel hurt when trying to exert pressure on the arms and hands while performing tasks such as the following:

  • Lifting heavy objects.
  • Grip and object such as a baseball bat or a tennis racket or anything that makes a fist.
  • Raise your hand above a level or straighten your wrist.
  • Chronic tennis elbow also causes pain while opening doors or shaking hands.

Similar to tennis elbow, there is another condition called as golfer’s elbow that causes similar symptoms. The pain in this condition radiates from inside the elbow.

Diagnosis of tennis elbow
The doctor will do a thorough physical examination to diagnose this condition. The examination would begin simply with the doctor telling you to stretch out and flex your arm, wrist, and elbow to see where it hurts the most.

Imaging tests such as X-ray or MRI can be used to diagnose tennis elbow and rule out other possibilities.

A good thing about the treatment options of tennis elbow is that mild and moderate symptoms might heal on their own. Going light on your elbow for sometime can help speed up the healing process. Other than this, the types of treatment that can help with healing include putting ice packs on the elbow, using an elbow strap, administering neo-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, undergoing physiotherapy, and performing exercises for a particular range of motion.

Most of the time, the above-mentioned treatments will do the trick; for severe cases of tennis elbow that do not respond to 2 to 4 months of treatment, surgery may be required. The procedure involves removing of the damaged tendon and repairing the rest of it.