Tennis elbow is a painful condition of the elbow that occurs due to repeated forceful impact on the extended arm. It is the result of small tears in muscles and tendons just above the elbow.
What are the symptoms?
Pain caused by lifting or bending the arm or grasping even light objects such as a coffee cup.
Difficulty in extending the forearm fully.
Pain that lasts for 6 to 12 weeks.
What causes tennis elbow?
The injury resulting in a tennis elbow may initially consist of tiny tears in the muscles and tendons. Before these heal, the tissues may be subjected to stress again. This may result in the formation of rough scarred tissue and calcium deposits within the tissues. Collagen, a protein found in the muscles, may leak out from the injured areas causing swelling. The build up of pressure may cut off the blood flow and affect one of the nerves controlling muscles in the arm and hand, resulting in swelling, pain and a weak grip.
How is the condition treated?
The doctor will be able to make a correct diagnosis before starting appropriate treatment. Adequate rest is required. The elbow should be used normally for all activities that do not aggravate the pain. The elbow and wrist should be put through a full range of motion at least once a day. The patient may start doing his normal activities once the tissues are healed.
Local heat may promote healing. Alternate hot and cold application may increase the blood flow to the part and wash out substances causing the pain. Local massage may also help in increasing the blood flow and reducing the swelling. Wearing long sleeves may give relief from pain by keeping the elbow warm and promoting rest. Drugs like ibuprofen may be taken to reduce swelling and pain. A pain-relieving ointment containing diclofenac may be suggested by the doctor to reduce pain and promote healing. If this does not work, local injections of steroids or even an operation may be required.