Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a repetitive strain injury in the forearm. This painful condition occurs when tendons in your elbow are overworked whether you’re literally playing tennis or you work as a landscaper. Our Brielle, NJ physical therapists describe causes, signs, and symptoms of tennis elbow. We also share a key exercise to help alleviate tennis elbow pain.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is actually a type of tendinitis — swelling of the tendons — that causes pain in the elbow and arm. It happens when you damage the tendons that connect the muscles of your forearm to your elbow. Generally, you’ll feel the pain on the outside of the elbow.
Despite its name, you can still get tennis elbow even if you’ve never been near a tennis court. Instead, any repetitive gripping activities, especially if they use the thumb and first two fingers, may contribute to tennis elbow. It can pop up in people of any age, but it’s most common at about age 40.
Despite its name, you can still get tennis elbow even
if you’ve never been near a tennis court.
What Causes Tennis Elbow?
Most of the time tennis elbow is caused by overuse with repeated movements. You probably got it from doing activities where you twist your arm over and over. This motion can stress the tendon, causing tiny tears that in time lead to pain. A direct blow to the outer elbow can also cause tendon damage.
Tennis elbow is common in tennis players, but most people get it from other activities that work the same muscles, such as gardening, painting, or even using a screwdriver.
Tennis elbow might result activities such as:
- Weight lifting
However, It can also affect people with jobs or hobbies that require repetitive arm movements or gripping such as:
- Raking/lawn work
- Knitting or sewing
Contact our healthcare specialists to see how we can help
relieve your pain!
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
The symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and tenderness in the bony knob on the outside of your elbow. This knob is where the injured tendons connect to the bone. The pain may also radiate into the upper or lower arm. Although the damage is in the elbow, you’re likely to hurt when you grip, twist, or lift.
To diagnose tennis elbow, a doctor will examine your elbow and ask questions about the elbow problem, your daily activities, and past injuries. You probably won’t need to have an X-ray, but you might have one to help rule out other things that could be causing the pain. If your symptoms don’t get better with your chosen treatment, you might have an imaging test, such as an MRI for diagnosis.
Call your primary care physician if:
- The pain does not improve or gets worse.
- The area becomes red or swollen.
- You have trouble moving your arm.
- You see a lump or bulge on your arm.
Physical Therapy for Tennis Elbow
Our local physical therapists can help you with exercises aimed at strengthening the forearm muscles. These exercises along with resting the muscles and over-the-counter (OTC) medication may help prevent tennis elbow from coming back.
One exercise for tennis elbow our team likes to use is a simple weighted wrist turn. While holding a light dumbbell (or if at home a can of food), you’ll slowly turn the wrist to work and strengthen muscles in the forearm. This seemingly simple move packs a big punch! When you visit Brielle Integrated Healthcare, we’ll customize a tennis elbow treatment plan for you.
Living with Tennis Elbow
Most people recover from tennis elbow after treatment. You may need physical therapy or a brace to help manage ongoing symptoms or prevent them from coming back. Some patients at Brielle integrated Healthcare may also include massage therapy or chiropractic care.
With many different nonsurgical treatment options to consider, most tennis elbow patients can find relief without having to undergo surgery. Speak with a physical therapist in Brielle, NJ to find out more information about treatments Brielle Integrated Healthcare can provide. From avid gardeners and tennis players to plumbers and butchers, therapy can reduce tennis elbow pain.