Tennis elbow is a painful condition of the muscles and tendons on the outside of the arm, just at and below the elbow joint. Its proper medical term is lateral epicondylitis.
WHAT CAUSES TENNIS ELBOW & WHO IS AT RISK?
The name ‘tennis elbow’ is a little misleading because it is not only tennis players who suffer from it. Tennis elbow can also affect golfers, bricklayers, housewives, – just anyone who is active. Any activity that involves repeatedly rotating your wrist and using force, such as throwing a ball or using a screwdriver, can cause tennis elbow. This repeated bending and twisting of your forearm creates small tears in the tendons where they are attached to the bone on the outside of the elbow, eventually causing pain and interference with normal function.
Other factors contributing to tennis elbow include:
Weakness and inflexibility in the forearm muscles, which can’t take the stresses placed on the arm.
Poor sporting technique – for example, leading with the elbow during a backhand tennis stoke, puts pressure on the outside of the elbow and may cause injury.
Using incorrect sporting equipment, such as the wrong grip, size or string tension, which can lead to injury.
Using old gardening tools, such as a trowel with a faulty handle, which makes the hand grip more tightly and puts more pressure on the arm.
People aged between 35 and 55 are more likely to develop tennis elbow.
THE COMMON SYMPTOMS
Common symptoms are, pain and tenderness in the outside of the elbow and sometimes in the muscles on the top part of the forearm. That pain can come and go, or be constant – it can even interrupt your sleep.
There is tenderness to pressure on the bony prominence on the outer side of the elbow (Lateral epicondyle)
The elbow may not fully bend or straighten.
If asked to extend the wrist or middle finger against resistance the patient will experience pain on the outer side of the elbow.