How to Deal with Tennis Elbow Pain?
One of the most common repetitive stress injuries, lateral epicondylitis is more commonly known as tennis elbow. In most cases, the condition is caused by overuse. Activities that require you to twist your arm over and over with great force, such as tennis, are the most common culprits. The actual injury is called tendonitis, which is caused by tiny tears in the over stressed tendons that connect the muscles of your forearm to your elbow. If left untreated, the pain can and often will spread down your entire arm all the way to your wrist. In extreme cases, simple tasks like turning a doorknob or shaking someone's hand could become uncomfortable, even painful.
Who gets it?
About fifty percent of professional tennis players suffer from the condition and often have their careers cut short by it. But it is also quite common in people who perform or enjoy activities that can exhaust the same muscle group. Gardeners, painters, factory works, and carpenters are far more likely to come down with a mild case of tennis elbow that the average person, even if they've never picked up a tennis racket in their lives.
Although the injury can affect people of any age, it usually occurs in middle age. What might have been simple soreness at an earlier time can become actual pain when muscles breakdown a bit. While overuse is the most common cause, improper technique can also aggravate an existing injury. If, for example, you are twisting your tennis racket too much during each stroke, it may result in damage to the tendons.
Can you cure tennis elbow?
In a word, yes...but it takes time! The reason half of all professional tennis players suffer from the condition for years on end is that they never have the opportunity to rest their aching joints. Most of them compete and practice on a nearly year-round schedule, so taking time off is simply not an option. As a result, the injury never heals properly and they must play through the pain. It is a regrettable situation, but it is understandable. Professional athletes are rarely 100 percent healthy. But the rest of us have no excuses! We should suspend any activity that results in tennis elbow pain immediately.
Tennis elbow pain treatment
The decision to seek medical attention depends on the extent of the injury and its longevity. If you have been suffering from the problem for an extended period of time, we strongly suggest that you contact your doctor as soon as possible. She will examine your elbow and your past injuries and will ask about your daily activities and which of them seems to aggravate the affected joint. In rare cases, she may order an X-ray or an MRI if she believes the damage is extensive.
For minor cases, it is possible to treat tennis elbow pain at home. Most medical professionals recommend the RICE method, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. During periods of recovery, the method should be followed anytime you experience soreness or pain in your injured elbow. Ice or cold packs can be applied for 10 to 15 minutes per session, which should shorten recovery times and alleviate some of the discomfort.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen are safe and effective and may reduce the swelling caused by minor tissue damage. After it has completely healed, it is also recommended that you wear a brace or shock absorber whenever you engage in the activity that caused the injury in the future.