What are the root causes of Tennis Elbow?
The majority of the muscles that extend your wrist are attached to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow called the lateral epicondyle. Sometimes, through constant injuries or being overused, the site where these muscles insert can become irritated or inflamed. This condition is called lateral epicondylitis or "tennis elbow"- even though the majority of those affected do not play tennis. At Maximum Performance, we see patients from all over Northwest Arkansas to treat a range of symptoms due to tennis elbow.
The activities involving constant wrist extension are a common cause of this condition, i.e., tennis, carpentry, bricklaying, knitting, playing piano, typing, or lifting objects with your palm facing down. The condition is 3 times more likely to strike your dominant arm becasue of overuse.
The pain often begins as not being constant or it can become a gradual discomfort during activity, from which it progresses so that even simple activities, like holding a coffee cup, become painful. Pain may increase when you straighten your arm, grip a doorknob or shake hands. The pain can change from mild to severe quickly and it commonly radiates into the forearm, sometimes to the wrist.
Without treatment, "tennis elbow" usually lasts a long time - 80% of patients still report pain after one whole year. The first step in a successful treatment plan is to modify or eliminate activities that cause pain. At night, you have to try and avoid sleeping with your elbow compressed underneath your pillow. Try to avoid lifting or carrying heavy objects with your palm facing down. Tennis or racquetball players may need to change to a lighter racket or a smaller handle. We may prescribe a "counter force brace" for your elbow depending on severity. This brace will act as a temporary new attachment site for your muscles, therefore reducing some of the stress to your elbow. Sports creams and home ice massage may provide relief as well if recommended by Doctor. Be patient with your recovery, give yourself time!