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Tennis elbow is a common injury that causes pain on the outside of the elbow. Medically termed epicondylitis.
This condition is not only seen in tennis players but also other sports and recreational activities. These activities involve repetitive stress on the muscles around the elbow. Heavy weight lifting can also aggravate the condition. This injury can be very difficult to treat, especially if it becomes chronic. Obtain an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible. Tennis elbow can be acute and develop very suddenly or develop over a period of days or weeks and become chronic.
Symptoms
The main symptom is pain about 1 to 2 cm down from the bony part on the outside of the elbow (lateral epicondyle). Also there may be weakness associated in the muscles around the forearm and even the wrist. This may cause difficulty in performing simple tasks like opening a door handle.
A professional massage therapist may perform a number of assessment tests to help diagnose lateral epicondylitis.
Causes
Tennis elbow is an over use injury that most commonly occurs at the junction of where the tendon of 'extensor carpi radialis brevis' muscle inserts into the lateral epicondyle of the humerus- bony bit of the outside of the elbow known as the funny bone. A large number of pain receptors are in this region causing it to be particularly tender to touch.
Acute Tennis Elbow can occur immediately after hitting a backhand shot in tennis. The wrist extensor muscles on the back of the forearm become suddenly overloaded causing micro tears on the tendon where it attaches to the elbow.
Chronic Tennis Elbow normally develops over a period of weeks and usually follows intense activity that the person is not used to, like lifting heavy boxes.
The medical term is lateral epicondylitis but this can be misleading as the 'itis' on the end of the word implies that there is inflammation in the area. In most cases this is not exactly true because most of the injuries are chronic or longstanding and therefore the inflammatory stage has finished.
Treatment
Treatment for tennis elbow involves reducing symptoms of pain and inflammation. This is achieved through rest and applying ice. Gradually the load can be increased on the elbow through careful exercises. Normal training and competition can be resumed eventually.
A tennis elbow brace or support can help reduce the strain on the tendon enabling healing. Sports massage can be of benefit and a doctor may prescribe medication to help reduce symptoms.

 

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