What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is characterized as a painful inflammation of the structures involving the elbow joint (tendons, muscle, bursa, epicondyle, periosteum) and surrounding tissue. It usually occurs due to the repetitive contraction of the wrist muscles located on the outer forearm. It is classically considered an ‘overuse’ condition, meaning it is primarily found in people who frequently make these repetitive motions. Tennis and golf players are the most commonly affected patients, along with regular participants of any other sport, activity, or occupation that requires repeated gripping motions. Statistics show that forty percent of tennis players are suffering from Tendon Elbow while thirty percent of workers who use their hands for repetitive tasks are affected. The natural course of tennis elbow lasts from six months to four years. While the main treatment in non-surgical, about ten percent of TE cases need surgery.
What are the risk factors?
- Occupation: Jobs that require repetitive wrist and arm motion put people at risk for tennis elbow. The following people are most at risk for TE: painters, carpenters, butchers, cooks and plumbers.
- Age: Tennis Elbow can affect a person of any age, but it is most common in adults ages 0 to 50.
- Sports: There are certain sports that can increase your chance of getting TE such as golf and racket sports, especially if you are using a poor stroke technique.
Signs and Symptoms
The most concrete manifestation of tennis elbow is pain that radiates from the outside of your elbow going to your forearm and as well as your wrist. You might also feel weakness in the affected arm. It may be difficult for affected people to turn a doorknob, hold a cup of coffee or shake hands with someone. TE symptoms are often relieved through rest, ice application and over the counter pain medications. If you think you may have tennis elbow, seeing a physician is the best thing you can do. You can also try rest, ice, and pain medication at home, however if symptoms persist for more than five days you should see your physician.
What will happen if I consult a physician?
If you approached your family physician or a generalist regarding TE, your doctor would most likely refer you to an orthopedic surgeon or a sports medicine specialist. You should be prepared to answer questions pertaining to the history and progress of the condition.
Moreover, upon a visit, your physician would most likely perform a physical examination by applying pressure to the affected site and as well as asking you to move your fingers, wrist, and elbows.
Usually, taking your medical history and doing a physical examination are enough for the physician to make the diagnosis of tennis elbow. However, if your doctor suspects that there might be other underlying problems or if your nerves are already involved, he/she may require you to get an X-ray, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or EMG (Electromyography).
Treatment and Management
As mentioned earlier, tennis elbow is managed by rest, ice application and by taking over-the-counter pain medications. However, if these self-care measures do not offer any relief, seeking medical advice is necessary. Your doctor may opt for more conservative measures like therapies for mild to moderate cases. Only in very severe and untreated incidences does tennis elbow require surgery.
What are the different kinds of Tennis Elbow therapies?
Physiotherapy: This involves exercises that will stretch and strengthen your elbow muscles in a gradual pace and can be of help in your early recovery. Likewise, it also involves massage and manipulation to relieve pain and promote blood circulation to your arm. This type of therapy might require you to wear a strap or brace to add support to your forearm and thus prevent stress on the affected part.
Pharmacologic Therapy: Anti-inflammatory medications and analgesics are usually used to reduce mild pain caused by TE. For severe cases, corticosteroid injections are sometimes administered, and can help greatly to reduce inflammation and pain and to increase functionality.
Activity Modifications: Your health care provider will ensure that necessary steps are taken to prevent your tennis elbow from occurring again. Part of this is by assessing how you usually use the affected part and by making modifications that will reduce the stress on it. Your doctor may evaluate your sports technique or job tasks and suggest that you change your techniques or help you apply ergonomics.
Shockwave Therapy: Research states that shockwave therapy helps alleviate tennis elbow pain. However, this is not quite applicable to all cases. Further research is deemed necessary. Shockwave therapy is a type of non-invasive treatment wherein shockwaves are passed through the skin. During the procedure, a local anesthetic is applied to reduce any discomfort. Side effects of the procedure may include skin reddening and bruising on the affected site.
If your Tennis Elbow symptoms do continue to manifest even after a year of conservative therapy, your last resort is surgery wherein the damaged tissue will be removed. The surgery can be done either by making one large incision or many small incisions. After the surgery, rehabilitation is a key factor in fast and effective recovery.
Tennis Elbow is usually a self-limited condition which resolves on its own. Yes, it is common, but cases of TE usually are not very severe. Proper management and treatment of this condition can help speed up the recovery period. Self-care measures can be effective in relieving tennis elbow pain. However, this is not always the case. If you feel like your TE is causing you a great deal of pain and discomfort, there is nothing wrong with seeking the help of a medical professional. With the help of health care providers, you will be confident enough that you are receiving the correct and finest quality of care when it comes to treating your condition.
How can DOCCS be of help?
Speaking of effective and high-caliber healthcare services, you can never go wrong with choosing DOCCS. If you are suffering from tennis elbow and you want immediate care but don’t want to wait in long ER lines, then DOCCS Urgent Care Center is the right place for you.
In DOCCS, your condition will be assessed and diagnosed accurately with its well-experienced doctors and high-tech X-ray facility. You will be given the complete primary care for your injury and will be referred to a specialist accordingly. You can walk-in at the facility anytime; no appointment is necessary and DOCCS accepts most types of insurance plans.
Don’t tolerate the pain brought by your Tennis Elbow symptoms, for immediate relief and attention; you can visit DOCCS Urgent Care Center.