A common injury that is seen in professional athletes, and less-than professional ones, is tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is a serious but treatable condition that can impact anyone who uses their elbow excessively, whether it’s playing tennis or other sports and activities that have an excessive amount of repetitive elbow movement. If you are interested in learning more about the common signs of tennis elbow, and how to treat it, keep reading.
What is Tennis Elbow Exactly?
Tennis elbow is the nickname for the condition in which the tendons of the forearm that attach to the muscle on the outside of the elbow get inflamed. (See image below for an idea.) This injury occurs when the same repetitive motion weakens and overuses this area, so the tendons become inflamed. The nickname comes from the idea that this is the common injury found in tennis players due to that repetitive motion of making shots back and forth, however like we mentioned above, it can affect just about anyone.
What Are The Common Symptoms?
There are a series of symptoms that could indicate that you have tennis elbow, and we’ve put together a list of the 5 most popular ones so that you know what to watch for:
- Burning or pain on the outside of the elbow: This could be tingling or actual pain on the outside of the elbow.
- Weakness in your grip: This weakness of grip would be gradual for the most part, but could sometimes be sudden.
- Pain when shaking out hands: If you need to shake out your hands and wrist, you’ll probably find some pain when doing this.
- Pain when repeating the movement: If you continue the physical activity that involves repetitive elbow movements, you’ll find increased pain while continuing the activity.
- Symptoms appearing in one elbow over the other: Many activities that require excessive elbow movement are usually done with one dominant arm, so the symptoms will be common in one elbow over the other one.
There are other symptoms, but these are the most common ones that you can watch out for. If the pain persists, we highly recommend that you consult your doctor as soon as possible.
How Can You Treat Tennis Elbow?
Firstly, there are generally two types of high-level treatment options. The surgical kind and the non-surgical kind. Traditionally, most people can find relief when looking at one or more of the non-surgical options. The surgical ones are reserved for when someone has severe discomfort even after non-surgical options have been tested properly and for a long period of time. The non-surgical options include:
- Rest and healing: The first treatment for tennis elbow pain is, of course, to give it time to rest and heal. Often, especially when caught early, this is all that you need to do to get relief and to let it pass.
- Ice / cold therapy: Ice, cold packs or cold therapy wraps are a great way to reduce the swelling, inflammation and pain. Using it on and off throughout the day (e.g.: 15 minutes every few hours) can make a huge difference.
- Use proper equipment: Inspect the equipment you are using closely and make sure it’s up to par. For example, a racket with tight strings or a large head will have more impact on your elbow. A smaller head and looser strings will help minimize the impact that the racket is going to make, and this will help the elbow and tendons get more rest.
- Using a brace: A brace or tensor can help minimize the impact that your arm and elbow are going to take. It will also relieve the stress and pressure on your tendons to keep them from getting inflamed so quickly again.
- Physical therapy: When it comes to treatment for elbow pain, physical therapy is a great option. Physical therapy is often used as a preventative measure in the professional world, and can be used in the non-professional world as well. A lot of times physical therapy in combination with massage therapy can be a great way to make the most out of the treatment, as both are great when used together for further healing and strengthening.
- Regular stretching: Before and after a diagnosis, regular stretching of the area is the best way to treat tennis elbow. Gentle stretches that help promote blood flow and proper movement of the area are going to help make sure that everything stays as healthy as possible in terms of further injury or re-injury of the same area. The following video will give you some ideas on what to do:
Tennis Elbow vs Golfer’s Elbow
It’s commonly thought that tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are the same thing, but this is not the case at all. They happen in similar spots, but they occur due to different problems. One being that it’s called golfer’s elbow for a reason. Unlike tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow occurs when the tendons are inflamed that connect from the forearm to the inside of the elbow. Since a golfer is going to be hitting the ball and creating an impact on the inside of the elbow, the injury will occur there. (But keep in mind, it doesn’t only affect golfers.)
The treatments are often similar, but it is important to remember that the injuries themselves are different. Proper diagnosis is key to making sure that everyone gets the quality treatment that is needed to help each sufferer back on their feet and playing the sport again. A properly licensed professional in the medical field will be able to distinguish between the two kinds of injuries.
Tennis elbow can be a pain – literally and figuratively – but proper diagnosis and treatment is critical to getting everything going again with minimal disruption. Nonsurgical treatment is the recommended course for the majority of those who require treatment, and that treatment itself can occur in many forms and combinations to give each patient the best chance at a full recovery. Tennis elbow isn’t the end of the line, but it is a bump in the road to take seriously. Prevention is great, but treatment as needed is critical to consider for a long-term results. Do you have any experience dealing with tennis elbow? If so, we’d love to hear how you are able to get relief. Just leave a comment below.
Disclaimer -- We are not medical professionals here at SimplyJnJ. The information posted today on 5 Common Signs That You Have Tennis Elbow was for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor if you are experiencing any sort of pain.