Tennis elbow is a condition that causes sore inflammation due to repeated stress. The discomfort arises on the exterior of the elbow but might spread down the rear part of the forearm. In most cases, it is uncomfortable to straighten or fully extend the arm.
What are the causes?
It is important to note that the forearm tendons link the forearm muscles to the exterior elbow bone. Tennis elbow can occur if a specific muscle in the forearm, specifically the extensor carpi radialis brevis is injured.
If subjected to repeated stress, it weakens this muscles and results to miniature tears in the tendon at the point where it links to the exterior of the elbow. This results to elbow pain and inflammation.
What are at the signs of tennis elbow?
The individual might experience the following signs if tennis elbow is suspected:
- Elbow pain that is initially mild but steadily worsens
- Weak grip
- Discomfort that radiates from the exterior of the elbow to the forearm and wrist
- Intensifying discomfort when squeezing an object or shaking hands
- Aching sensation when lifting objects, opening jars or using tools
Management of tennis elbow
Generally, most cases of tennis elbow can be effectively managed without requiring surgery. The doctor will initially suggest any of the following:
- Adequate rest – the initial step in recovery is to allow the injured arm to rest for several weeks. A brace is provided by the doctor to immobilize the affected muscles.
- Cold therapy – an ice pack can help lessen the pain and inflammation. An ice pack should be applied over the affected elbow.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – these medications are given to lessen the swelling and pain.
- Steroid injections – a shot of corticosteroid medication might be administered by the doctor into the affected muscles to reduce the inflammation.
- Ultrasound therapy – an ultrasound probe is positioned over the sore area on the arm where high-frequency sound waves are emitted into the tissue for a given time span.
- Physical therapy – a variety of exercises are done to strengthen the forearm muscles and allow healing.
When is surgery needed?
Surgical intervention might be necessary if the symptoms of tennis elbow does not improve after a year of treatment.
Surgery is either carried out using a miniature scope that is inserted into the elbow or via a bigger incision made over the joint. Both methods are utilized to get rid of any dead tissue and reattach healthy muscle onto the bone.
After the procedure, a splint is used for immobilization to restore muscular strength and flexibility.