Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is the most common injury in patients seeking medical attention for elbow pain. Exactly what causes tennis elbow is unknown, but it is thought to be due to small tears of the tendons that attach forearm muscles to the arm bone at the elbow joint. The muscle group involved, the wrist extensors, function to cock the wrist back. Specifically, the extensor carpi radialis brevis has been implicated in causing the symptoms of tennis elbow.
What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?
Patients with tennis elbow syndrome experience pain on the outside of the elbow that is worsened by grasping objects and cocking back the wrist. The most common symptoms of tennis elbow are: •
Pain over the outside of the elbow
Pain when lifting objects
Pain radiating down the forearm
Pain when the tendon is under pressure
In most cases this is the first tendonitis symptom to develop. Individuals may feel pain in the tendon when it's under pressure. This pressure could come from lifting weights, playing tennis, jumping, working with your hands or any type of manual job.
Movement is restricted
Individuals may find it hard to move the affected area. For example if the tendonitis has developed in the bicep the individual may not be able to restrict the arm fully.
Affected area is painful when moved or touched
In the first stages of tendonitis pain only usually occurs when the tendons are under pressure. As the tendonitis develops pain will start to occur throughout the day whether the tendon is under pressure or not. The pain will occur when you touch the tendon and move the joint.
Burning sensation around the affect area
in some cases of tendonitis individuals have reported a "burning" sensation coming from the affected area. The burning is felt mostly after exercise or manual labor and in the morning or late at night.
Affected area is swollen, red, warm or lumpy
The tendon sheaths may be visibly swollen from the accumulation of fluid and inflammation. This is a sign that tendonitis has become more serious. Tendonitis treatment - self help steps
Stop the activity that caused the pain
The first step to proper tendonitis treatment is to stop all activities associated with the affected area.
Rest the affected area for at least 3 weeks
Rest is the most important part of tendonitis treatment. In most cases the tendon will be able to completely heal itself with enough rest.
If possible, brace the area
If possible we recommend you brace the affected area. This could mean a wrist brace (wrist), arm sling (shoulder), knee brace (knee), etc. Bracing the area protects it against further inflammation and strain.
Apply anti-inflammatory medication to the area
Anti-inflammatory medication can help to relieve tendonitis pain and dilate the blood vessels. This allows for relief of the pain, without causing any stiffening of the tissue.
After 3 weeks, re-evaluate the situation
How is the pain feeling after 3 weeks? If the pain has not subsided, rest for another 3 weeks. If the area is feeling better you can begin further rehabilitation.
Apply light resistance, movement and stretching
Apply slow and controlled movement to the affected area. If no pain is felt, you may use very light weights. After movement some gentle stretching can be applied. Repeat these light movement exercises for a minimum of 3 weeks.
Start light exercise
By now your tendon should be ready for some light exercises. You can find some exercises for various body parts on this page.
Ease back into activity
Your tendon should now be ready to start regular activity again. Make sure your properly warm up and stretch your tendon before you begin exercising.
Other causes of pain over the outside of the elbow include instability of the joint, elbow arthritis, and radial tunnel syndrome. The symptoms of these conditions are usually distinct, but in some cases they can be...
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