Tennis elbow (also known as lateral epicondylitis) refers to constant pain that originates outside the elbow due to irritation or inflammation of the tendons of the elbow. This condition occurs when the tendons in elbow are overused, generally due to repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. The pain associated with the condition generally occurs when the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow. Reputable pain management and rehabilitation centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer effective treatment modalities to reduce severe pain and other symptoms associated with the condition.
Despite its name, most cases of tennis elbow occur in people who are not tennis players. It is estimated that less than 5% of patients suffering from this condition actually play tennis. On the other hand, people who are engaged in jobs such as carpentry, painting and manual labor (that involve repetitive usage of the forearm muscles) are at high risk of developing tennis elbow. The condition can occur in people of any age group, but it’s more common among those who are 40-60 years old.
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
The prominent symptom associated with this condition is a burning sensation and pain surrounding the elbow,which may radiate into the forearm and wrist. Usually, the pain makes it difficult to grip small objects, lift or bend arm or twist forearm. Other signs and symptoms include –
- Wrist weakness
- Tenderness outside the elbow
- Pain when lifting and carrying
- Pain and stiffness when fully extending your arm
- Difficulty in extending the forearm fully
- Chronic pain when lifting or bending the arm
The elbow pain and discomfort may radiate from the outside of the joint into the forearm and wrist and can last for weeks, months and years. It can get worse if left untreated or if the forearm is repetitively used.
Treatment for Tennis Elbow
There are different treatment methods for tennis elbow, which may vary depending on the type and severity of symptoms. Before initiating the treatment options, the physician will conduct a detailed physical exam and ask patients to move their elbow, wrist and fingers in various ways.If the physician suspects that some other factors are causing the symptoms, X-rays or other types of imaging tests may be recommended to confirm the diagnosis.
The top non-surgical treatment options for treating tennis elbow are:
- Physical therapy – Physical therapy exercises help strengthenthe muscles of the forearm and improve joint flexibility. Generally, these would include gentle stretching and strengthening exercises.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – TENS involves the use of low voltage electric currents for pain relief.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation.
- Game Ready Cold Therapy and Compression – This involves the application of controlled cold therapy and intermittent compression to promote healing.
- Ice and heat application – Ice packs reduce inflammation and heat packs provides muscle relaxation.
- Chiropractic care – Chiropractic treatmenthelps fix the normal alignment of the elbow joints and improve joint flexibility. It also reduces inflammation and allows the damaged tendons to heal more quickly.
- Pain injections – Cortisone pain injections are directly administered into the joint to ease pain.
If the pain in the elbows becomes severe and chronic, surgery to remove the damaged part of the tendons would be recommended.
Modifying the level of activities or avoiding activities that strain your muscles and tendons is one of the first steps towards recovery. You will be advised to stop participating in sports activities or other manual tasks (that involve lifting) for several weeks until the damaged tendons heal andthe pain in your arm subsides completely.