Tennis Elbow

Topics: Upper limb anatomy, Wrist, Extension Pages: 5 (1955 words) Published: December 2, 2012
Imagine waking up one morning with a slight pain in your elbow. You tell yourself it's no big deal, that it will go away on its own, and continue on with your normal everyday activities. But oddly, the pain doesn't go away and instead, continuously gets worse. Now you decide you need to rest your arm and manage for a few days brushing your teeth, writing, and handling food with your left hand. Then, you run into a friend who reaches out his right hand and you absentmindedly return the gesture. The two of you shake hands and suddenly, you experience excruciating pains shooting up your arm. This single moment of forgetfulness, followed by the seemingly long minutes of cowering over your arm, indicates that you have tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is an agonizing pain in the elbow that has distinct causes, symptoms, treatment plans, and preventative actions. To better understand tennis elbow, it is helpful to understand the basic mechanics of the arm and elbow. The elbow is made up of three bones – the ulna, radius, and humorous. The radius and ulna are the two bones found in the forearm and the humorous is the only bone of the upper arm. Collectively, they form a hinge joint, which allows for flexion and extension of the arm. However, the point at which the radius and ulna meet forms a pivot joint, which allows the radius to rotate about the ulna and permits pronation and supination of the forearm (“Elbow Anatomy”). Ligaments of connective tissue hold the bones together and form a joint capsule, which encloses the joint and contains a lubricating fluid called synovial fluid (Conrad and Hooper 12). With the help of muscles, ligaments, and tendons, the elbow joint can bend and extend freely to allow movement of the arm. On the lower end of the humorous, there are two knobs that serve as locations for muscle and ligament attachments – the medial epicondyle and the lateral epicondyle. Attached to the epicondyles are the medial and lateral collateral ligaments that hold the humorous to the radius and ulna. Also, these knobs provide attachment sites for many flexor and extensor muscles in the forearm (“Understanding Arm Anatomy and Function”). The bicep tendon attaches the bicep muscle to the radius, and when the biceps contracts, the elbow is bent with force. The triceps tendon connects the triceps muscle on the back of the arm to the ulna and allowed the elbow to straighten with force (“Elbow Anatomy”). The combining action of these muscles provides coordinated movements of the arm and elbow. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is an inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow (“Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)”).Tennis elbow is commonly a result of straining the muscles in the forearm. Repeated twisting of the forearm, which is essential in a forehand and backhand stroke in tennis, is a major factor in tennis elbow. When the muscles in the arm are used repeatedly, small tears begin to develop in the tendons. Any activity that involves repetitive twisting of the wrist, including painting, plumbing, and cooking, can lead to the development of the tears. Over time, this leads to irritation and pain where the tendon is attached to the bone (“Tennis Elbow”). In tennis, particularly with the band hand and serve, well-developed extensor muscles are essential in preventing injury. Normally, people have stronger flexor muscles and weak extensor muscles. In a tennis match, the extensor muscles become abnormally strained and are vulnerable to tennis elbow (Mayo Clinic Staff). When tennis players extend their arms to reach for a wide ball or stroke incorrectly with a fully extended arm, the extensor muscles are almost at their maximum tension and are more susceptible to tearing. Any twisting of the wrist further pulls on the extensor muscles and tendon attachments. In addition, vibrations from the contact of the ball with the racket result in even more strain, damaging the tendons on the lateral...
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