You may think that tennis elbow is an injury that only occurs with tennis players, but this isn’t always the case. While Tennis elbow is common in tennis players, it boils down to being an overuse injury. These types of injuries can occur from activities that work the same muscle group, such as gardening, painting, or using a screwdriver…and of course, swinging a tennis racquet.
Tennis elbow is soreness or pain on the outer part of the elbow. It happens when you damage the tendons that connect the muscles of your forearm to your elbow. Since the arm, hand, and wrist are all connected, the pain may spread down your arm to your wrist. If you don’t treat the injury, it may hurt to do simple things like turn a key or open a door. If you are diagnosed with this condition, your doctor may use the formal term called lateral epicondylitis.
To diagnose tennis elbow, a doctor will examine your elbow and ask questions about the elbow problem, your daily activities, and past injuries.
If your symptoms don’t get better with conventional treatment, you might have diagnostic imaging tests done, such as an MRI, for further evaluation. This can tell your doctor whether a bone problem or tissue damage is causing your symptoms. It is recommended that you can start treating tennis elbow right away.
After the pain eases, your doctor or physical therapist can teach you rehabilitation exercises to stretch and strengthen the tendon in your elbow. Doing these exercises at home, after you have been taught them properly by a professional, can help your tendon heal and can prevent further injury. Your doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications.
When you feel better, you can return to your activity, but take it easy. It’s best to recover for a while, letting that muscle group return to normal. If you think you may be ready, but are not sure, speak to your doctor before jumping to conclusions. Don’t start at the same level as before your injury. Build back to your previous activity level slowly, and stop if it hurts immediately, to avoid damaging your tendon again.
To learn more about tennis elbow and how an orthopedist can help treat it, call Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland at (410) 644-1880 to request an appointment.