Tennis Elbow is a common condition treated by orthopedics. Medically, the term is lateral epicondylitis, and it is not limited only to people who play tennis. Golfers, people who type a lot, or lifters can suffer from this. The pain arises from the elbow side and degenerates from there. Epicondylitis is caused by the overuse and repeated use of the muscles of the forearm near the elbow joint. It causes strained and or inflammation to the tissue that develops close to the bony lump or the lateral epicondyle, which is just outside the elbow. One can feel the pain even by doing mundane activities like lifting, bending the arm, gripping small objects like a knife, or opening a door. The outer side of the elbow can cause a constant aching, especially when touched. This condition usually affects people from the ages of 30 to 50.
It is best to seek treatment because the more you endure it, the longer the time it may take to heal. Though it is a minor injury, the healing rate may vary. Before making a diagnosis, you will fill the doctor in about your professional life first for any occupational hazards, leisure, and factors that have caused it. When you visit a doctor, they will do some routine checks, including motions like straightening your wrist while they press on it. There may be imaging tests like X-Ray or MRIs to supplement a diagnosis.
Two possible treatments can be recommended. One is nonsurgical treatment and a minimally invasive surgical treatment.
The chance of success with nonsurgical treatment is 80% to 95%.
- The doctor will recommend halting any activities that will require constant use of the arms especially heavy work and even light ones like opening a jar or painting a picture.
- Icepacks or frozen vegetable bags are recommended for tissue tearing and tendon injuries. It reduces the swelling and numbs the pain. Continue doing so for 20-30 minutes every 4 hours every day until it is gone.
- Experts may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, it must be used occasionally as there is a possible consequential side effect such as an ulcer.
- Elbow strap. Wearing a brace over the back of the forearm alleviates the pain but just make sure that it is centered.
- Physical Therapy. A therapist can help strengthen the muscles by stretching them; aside from that, other techniques can be performed, such as massage and other techniques that will stimulate muscles to heal gradually.
Doctors only recommend surgery if the symptoms are persistent for months despite nonsurgical treatments. The surgery, however, requires only a short stay in the hospital that doesn’t even take a day. An open and arthroscopic surgery only makes a small incision over the elbow. The difference is that the latter repairs the elbow using miniature instruments.
After any treatment, the patient must avoid any strenuous activities for a while as it might undo the progress made or it might cause much more damage. Your elbow will signal you if it is already healing when the elbow is no longer swollen, you can move and bend your elbow without any pangs of pain, and gripping tools and objects are at ease.
Prevention is much as important as any treatment, and it saves you the trouble of any pain. Avoid overusing your arms. Practice self-care for your elbows, such as stretching before any activity and placing an ice pack after strenuous activity.