"Tennis elbow," or lateral epicondylitis, is an overuse injury which isn't just limited to people who play tennis. People who play various sports or work in certain occupations also can get this affliction. This affliction not only affects your athletic performance, but can also make doing everyday tasks more difficult. If you don't have it treated promptly, it could get worse and may eventually require surgery. However, if you recognize the symptoms early, then you should recover fully. Here are some signs that you have tennis elbow and some of its treatments.
Causes of tennis elbow:
Any type of activity where you use your forearm repeatedly can put you at risk for tennis elbow, especially if you're not properly trained and eased into the activity. If your activity also adds any weight or resistance to your forearm, then you could also be at increased risk. This type of injury is common in sports like tennis because of the reliance on the forearms to move the racket with speed and power. However, you can also get this affliction if you do gardening, house painting, working with a screwdriver or even cooking.
Symptoms of tennis elbow:
Tennis elbow often starts out gradually and gets worse over time. The pain will mostly be centered around the elbow area and radiate down the forearm to the wrist as it gets worse. At the same time, you may find that your grip seems weak or things slip out of your hands often. It's also possible that you will see some swelling around the forearm muscle and you may have trouble extending your arm after long periods of non-use.
Like many repetitive use injuries, you should immediately stop what you are doing and see a doctor who specializes in sports or orthopedic medicine. Your doctor may wish to do an x-ray to rule out any breakage, or an Electromygraphy (EMG) to check for any nerve damage. With rest and anti-inflammatory medications, you could fully recover without surgery if your case is mild. Steroid injections may be given for more serious, chronic problems. Your doctor could also prescribe a brace to reduce future injury. If none of these treatments work after several months, then you will need surgery by an orthopedic surgeon (try Tedder Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Center) to correct the issue.
After treating your tennis elbow, ask your doctor about things you can do to strengthen that area. This will not only reduce the chance that you will be injured again, it may also help you with your sports performance. Getting it taken care of as soon as symptoms start is the best way to make sure you can keep play your favorite sport or do your activity in the future.