Tennis Elbow Home Cures


What is Tennis Elbow?

It is an inflammation of the muscles and tendons along the outer side of the forearm, particularly where they attached into the lateral epicondyle (the bony knob of the outer elbow). The inflammation occurs as result of repetitive twisting or turning of the arm.

Tennis elbow is also commonly called Lateral Humeral Epicondylitis or Lateral Epicondylitis. I’ve seen several cases of elbow joint injuries or conditions in my physical therapy practice and tennis elbow is the most common. It can easily be treated if manage early but if left neglected and the cause is not addressed symptoms can last up to two years or longer.

How do I know that my condition is a Tennis Elbow

Any pain confirmed after doing one of the following tests is a positive sign of tennis elbow:

• Resist wrist extension while elbow extended with resistance over back of your hand.

• Palm down and fingers extended then try to lift forearm with resistance over your fingers.

• Flexed wrist with fingers extended downward then resist extension of the wrist over your fingers.

What are the symptoms of Tennis Elbow?

• There’s gradual onset of pain and slowly getting worse.

• Pain and tenderness to the touch over outer or lateral side of your elbow and may extend down the forearm.

• Pain is usually felt when you extend your wrist (wrist is in a position used for a push-up).

• There’s an increase of pain when you try to rotate your wrist against resistance (e.g. turning a doorknob or shaking hands).

How did I get tennis elbow I don’t even play tennis?

I have treated several cases of tennis elbow in my practice but not all of them are tennis players or athletes. In fact, only 5 percent of those patients were injured from playing tennis. You can suffer from this type of condition when you perform any repetitive action in which the elbow is constantly bending while your hand is gripping. Here are some examples:

• Excessive use of hammer or screwdriver

• Painting the ceiling with a roller-type brush

• Canoeing

• Kayaking

• Playing Badminton

• Baseball Pitching

• Tenpin bowling

• Playing Squash

• Playing Racquetball

• Fly-fishing

I play tennis and I have signs of tennis elbow what do you think I was doing wrong?

Besides being a physical therapist, I myself play recreational tennis and I had my share of some elbow problems in the past. After carefully studying and analyzing my forms, strokes and equipments with the help from tennis pro, here’s what we found to be the culprit of most elbow pains:

• Inappropriate technique. Using too much wrist movements in a stroke or faulty backhand stroke.

• Improper equipment. Heavy and smaller grip racket, tight string tension, and a wet or heavy ball will put more stress on your arm.

• Lack of conditioning. If you have a weak and poor flexibility of the shoulder your risk for injury is high. You must have strong or limber muscles of the arm to handle the stress of the game.

Is there something that I need to be concerned?

• It is important that when you detect early signs of tennis elbow that you act immediately. Scar tissue can build up in the muscle tendon attachment (lateral epicondyle) which makes it difficult to alleviate. Injury to this area heals poorly due to inadequate blood supply.

• Chronic weakening of the elbow area can cause complete rupture of the tendon attachment to the lateral humeral epicondyle which causes severe pain.

What should I be doing at home to help ease the pain?
Here are some tennis elbow home cures:

• Apply ice on the area as soon as you feel the pain. It is very effective if you massage the painful area with ice.

• Apply hot compress preferably moist heating pad after 72 hours from the time the pain started. This will help increase circulation in the area and facilitate healing.

• Use strap or brace if you cannot rest the joint sufficiently. This important if you have a job that requires continued activity that irritates the elbow.

• You can also use a wrist splint which can also be used to reduce motion at the wrist so there is less pull on the muscles at the elbow.

Activities to avoid. While recuperating from tennis elbow and to facilitate healing you should avoid:

• All movements or activities that trigger the condition until pain goes away or causes of the injury have been addressed.

• Lifting objects with your palm down.

• Using a thin pen or pencil when writing (it can cause a flare up); instead use thicker pen or pencil.

• Using a regular screwdriver; instead use a powered or long-handled driver to reduce force required.

What should I be taking to help ease the pain?

Take over the counter acetaminophen for relief if you have minor to moderate pain. Ibuprofen or Aspirin can be taken for relief of inflammation and pain.

When should I see a doctor? You should consult with your doctor if conservative treatment does not help, or if pain is so severe.

Here’s what the doctor can do:

• Perform examination to confirm the diagnosis of tennis elbow.

• Send you to have X-ray taken to rule out other possible causes of pain (e.g. fracture or loose body in the joint).

• Investigate the possibility of other conditions (e.g. rheumatic arthritis, a trapped radial or ulnar nerve, or referred pain from a pinched nerve in the neck).

• Administer cortisone injection if you have a chronic type of tennis elbow or any conservative treatment is not helping. Steroid injection often produce a quick result in clearing up the pain but sometimes it’s not long lasting and I would not advise that you get more than two shots as this can weaken the tendon.

• Perform surgery if conservative treatment and cortisone injection are not helping clearing up the pain

Recovery Time:

Your recovery from tennis elbow depends on the extent to which the condition has deteriorated.

• If you have benign cases of tennis elbow usually the condition resolves within three to six weeks with rest, refraining from sport participation, and taking over the counter medications.

• Other cases of tennis elbow can take three to six months to heal with conservative treatment, physical therapy, bracing and cortisone injections.

• If you have the worse type of tennis elbow your doctor may consider surgery after 5 months to eight months of failed conservative treatment. About 80 percent of people who undergo surgery reports some degree of pain relief. If you are a recreational athlete, it may take about three months before you can resume to full physical capacity.

We offer free consultation if you want to know how we can help your elbow pain. Call us at (248) 844-2665.


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