What is Tennis Elbow? A common work-related injury

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Maybe you’re a tennis player, and your elbow has been burning painfully with each swing. Maybe you’re not. Maybe your doctor diagnosed you with tennis elbow, and you struggle with the name, because you’ve never picked up a racket in your life. Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common injury among athletes, but you might be surprised to learn that the condition is very frequently seen in those who have never so much as served a ball. This may lead you to the question, what is tennis elbow, and why do so many people get it? 

What Is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is inflammation of tendons, as well as injury to tendons and muscles around the elbow joint as a result of overuse. While this injury is common for tennis players, anyone who engages in repetitive motion with their forearms, especially motion that repeatedly applies force, can develop tennis elbow. For this reason, tennis elbow is very common in a number of professions; athletes, carpenters, butchers, plumbers and also office workers.

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Symptoms can include:

  1. Pain or burning on the outer, bony part of the elbow

  2. Elbow stiffness and aching, especially after periods of rest

  3. Pain in the forearm

  4. Pain when gripping an object

  5. Weakness and reduced grip strength

What Causes Tennis Elbow?

While exactly what causes tennis elbow is unclear, there are several risk factors, including:

  1. Repetitive motion - Overuse of the elbow is a major contributing factor in the development of tennis elbow

  2. Age - Most people who develop tennis elbow are between the ages of 30 and 50.

  3. Activities - Anyone who vigorously uses her or his forearm muscle on a regular basis is at greater risk for developing tennis elbow.

  4. Technique and equipment - Those who use improper technique, or whose equipment is not appropriately sized for his or her body are at greater risk for tennis elbow

  5. This said, sometimes an individual with no obvious risk factors develops tennis elbow. When the causes are unknown, doctors may refer to the condition as “insidious” tennis elbow.

What Are My Treatment Options?

Tennis elbow is typically easy to treat, and more than 90% of patients recover with non-surgical treatment. Treatment options include:

  1. Activity Modification - You may need to change some of your activities. In many cases, for athletes, this means working with an athletic instructor or professional to change your body mechanics.

  2. Rest - One of the best treatments for tennis elbow is rest. Overuse causes tennis elbow, so resting is both an effective and often simple treatment option.

  3. Over the Counter Pain Medication - Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, or NSAIDS, often available over the counter, are usually effective in treating the pain and inflammation associated with tennis elbow. It is important to talk to your doctor before starting any medication regimen.

  4. Changing Equipment – Scientists have found that those using inappropriately sized equipment are often at higher risk for tennis elbow. 

  5. Physical Therapy and Exercise - Physical therapy is often helpful for orthopedic injuries, including tennis elbow, because they focus on strengthening muscles that work with and support joints and bones.

  6. Steroid Injections - Your doctor may recommend cortisone injections directly into the affected muscle to reduce acute swelling and pain.

  7. On rare occasions, if these options have been attempted over a long period of time and been ineffective, your doctor may recommend surgical treatment options.

After full recovery

After a full recovery its very important not continuing the damaging behavior. You can do several things to minimize your risk of a relapse. I will write an article on these subject soon.

  1. Train your muscles

  2. Stretch often

  3. Make sure you have good ergonomics

  4. Change position, grip and tools as often as possible

  5. Use of new technologies which helps you find the right load and sends reminders when you need to change behavior. www.precure.dk 

Rikke Krag Hvidesten