The actual cause for tennis elbow is unknown. It is often a chronic and disabling pain in the elbow, most frequently common in individuals whose occupation requires rotatory motion of the forearm. For example, tennis players, pipe fitters, carpenters and also people who overdo on the weekends are prone to this type of injury.
The onset is usually gradual. An aching usually appears over the outer aspect of the elbow and the pain is referred down into the forearm. The pain is persistent and is intensified by grasping or any twisting motion. The usual complaints of the patient are: pain, weakness of grasp and dropping of objects.
The different modes of treatment are:
- Rest by the use of immobilization.
- Heat – moist compresses to the elbow.
- Anti – inflammatory medications. These help cut down the inflammation in this area.
- A tennis elbow band helps to short circuit the pull of the muscle at the elbow, therefore, there is not a constant pulling of the muscles in this area. This in turn, promotes rest at the elbow joint. These devices can be purchased at a local sporting goods store.
- Injection. This is usually a combination of a novocain numbing medicine and steroids which is an anti – inflammatory. The novocain helps to numb the area and the steroid helps to cut down the inflammation in this area.
Once the acute episode is controlled it is usually a good idea to start an exercise program to strengthen the muscles in the forearm so this does not become a chronic problem. Exercise can be done by developing a very simple device. This device is very easy to make and you usually use three objects found in any home. The first object being the handle of a broom approximately three feet long with a hole drilled in the center. Second, a piece of rope about two feet long which is put through the hole in the broom handle and is tied on the end so it does not slip through. Third, use a five pound weight or brick attached at the other end of the rope. With the arms outstretched in front of you, you turn the broom handle wrapping the rope slowly around the broom handle and raising the weight / brick. This helps to strengthen the muscles in the arm which will hopefully keep this problem from becoming a chronic one.