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.
Tennis Elbow (Extensor Tendonitis)
Your pain at the elbow has generally been brought on by either a sudden back handed lifting stress, repetative power grip or wrist extension activities. Refraining from doing that activity which aggravates your pain is the first step to recovery.
We suggest using a simple form of a tennis elbow support which you may purchase without prescription at may local pharmacies or sporting good stores. Use this support (at a snug tension) whenever using the hand for these repetative actions. This may include such things as writing, typing, computer work, painting, grass cutting and tennis to name a few. Do not wear this to sleep.
If you are attending physical therapy then follow their recommendations for exercise. If you are working this out at home only, then follow this regimen with two twenty minute exercise periods daily.
- Five minutes of ice.
- Five minutes of massage across the sensitive tendon with pressure hard enough to irritate the area.
- Five minutes of stretching (five or ten seconds then rest and repeat) this is done with elbow straight and wrist limp. Take the other hand and force wrist in flexion and turn out at the same time (again five to ten seconds and repeat).
- Five more minutes of ice.
When you are feeling better strengthening can be added.