What Are The Causes of Tennis Elbow?


Tennis Elbow is inflammation of a group of muscles around the elbow. Tennis elbow is a commonly used term to describe pain at the elbow. This is considered a chronic condition leading to tendonitis.

The onset is generally from overuse of the extensor muscle group that attaches at the lateral epicondyle, or the outer bone at the elbow. Pain may be localized at this attachment site and/or can travel down the forearm and into the wrist as well.  Please watch this informational video about Tennis Elbow. 

Microtears of the soft and connective tissue are often associated with this injury as well.

Tennis Elbow is inflammation of a group of muscles around the elbow. Tennis elbow is a commonly used term to describe pain at the elbow. This is considered a chronic condition leading to tendonitis.What are the causes of Tennis Elbow
 


Tennis Elbow is inflammation of a group of muscles around the elbow. Tennis elbow is a commonly used term to describe pain at the elbow. This is considered a chronic condition leading to tendonitis.

The onset is generally from overuse of the extensor muscle group that attaches at the lateral epicondyle, or the outer bone at the elbow. Pain may be localized at this attachment site and/or can travel down the forearm and into the wrist as well.  

Microtears of the soft and connective tissue are often associated with this injury as well.

Tennis Elbow Anatomy


Tennis ElbowTennis Elbow
 

Who is Affected by Tennis Elbow? 

Although the common name is Tennis Elbow, this injury does not discriminate against any one person. Populations that tend to rely on gripping such as tennis, racquetball, fencing, and even weightlifting can be affected. This condition is also not designated to sports only. 

Occupations such as painters, plumbers, and carpenters may be subjected to lateral elbow pain as well. The typical age group of those that may suffer from tennis elbow ranges from 30-50 years old, but may also be younger or older than that range depending on the repetitiveness of their sport or occupation.


Signs and Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

Image of tennis player holding elbow in pain. Visit JOI to help alleviate your tennis elbow painTennis elbow pain is felt on the outer bone of the elbow

Signs and symptoms of tennis elbow are easily identifiable. Most present as pain on the lateral epicondyle (the outer bone of the elbow). This may often times be painful to palpate as well. Weakness in gripping and forearm strength is directly attributed to the injury. Many people will have pain and difficulty with lifting anything heavy or light. Often times holding a coffee mug, shaking hands, or gripping a racquet become painful.

How to Treat Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow can be easily managed on your own through simple stretches, massage, exercises, anti-inflammatories, and prophylactic braces/tapes. Stretching the forearm muscles by straightening the elbow and flexing the wrist palm down will lengthen the injured tissue. 

Massage will help mobilize the damaged structures as well as promote a healing response to the area as well. Once the symptoms have decreased or subsided, you may be able to perform some gripping exercises with a stress ball and even use light weights for extension, flexion, and rotation at the wrist to prevent future episodes. 

Laser therapy is available at 3 of the JOI Rehab Centers.  Medical laser therapy has certainly been proven to decrease the pain and inflammation with tennis elbow.

Over the counter NSAIDs are also helpful to decrease the chronic inflammation. To stay in the game or on the job site, a brace or strap may be used to provide immediate compression just below the attachment site of the muscle to decrease pain as well. A proper warm-up and cool down before and after activity may prove to be beneficial to long term health of the forearm.


Causes of Tennis Elbow 

The causes of tennis elbow can vary.  The most common cause is a cumulative or degenerative overuse of the wrist extensor muscles, in particular the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis or ECRB.  This can be an acute repetitive activity, such as painting a room or a gradual onset after years of use. Although less common, tennis elbow can also be caused by an acute trauma to the outside of the elbow (called the lateral epicondyle). This can damage the tendon and lead to symptoms of tennis elbow.  With tennis, this can be related to the grip of the racquet, changing racquets, the tension of your strings, micro tearing of the tendon and sometimes playing too much tennis.  Other causes can be repetitive forces on the elbow such as the clicking of your mouse on your computer.  Another repetitive cause can be activities such as painting or pruning bushes in your yard. 


When to Seek Help

If the pain persists for several weeks or more and home management has not helped, you may want to consult with a medical professional for further evaluation. A medical physician may want to take images to understand the extent of the injury or provide heavier NSAIDs to control the inflammation. 

Tennis Elbow Stretch Stretches for Tennis Elbow
 

Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapists are very useful professionals that can look into the exact causes of the injury. For example, the problem may be related to mechanics in your swing, or even weaknesses not involving the forearm but in the shoulder that force you to rely on overuse of the extensor muscles.  If you want to learn more about exercises for tennis elbow or tendonitis, please read this Tennis Elbow Exercises.   It is important to make sure that you are doing the stretches correctly and that you are doing eccentric strengthening exercises.  To schedule physical therapy at any of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers, please call 904-858-7045. 


What’s new with Tennis Elbow?

The JOI Sports Center is a state of the art facility that focuses on tennis rehab. This center can be of great benefit to prevent re-injury since the issue is usually with biomechanics and technique that cause the problem in the first place.  There are a few tennis elbow braces which can also help decrease the symptoms. To schedule physical therapy, please call 904-858-7045.

PRP injections: Early research is demonstrating success with Tennis Elbow 

By Greg Heeter ATC

To schedule an appointment for tennis elbow, please call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online or click below.



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