Tennis elbow is a form of tendonosis that affects the lateral elbow tendons. It is also commonly referred to as lateral epicondylitis. When the thick fibrous tissue linking up the muscles and joints in the elbow deteriorates, it results in tennis elbow. Tendonosis is not to be confused with tendonitis. Tendonosis is much more serious and is not an inflammation like tendonitis. It is the actual degradation of the tendons.
It is caused by the overuse of an injured elbow. As the name suggests, racket sportsmen suffer from this injury at a much higher ratio than anyone else. The repetitive action of racket swings causes this slow degradation of the tendon over time. The ailment is also found increasingly in professional rock climbers as they perform similar movements where strain is focused on their elbows.
The imbalance and weakness of the different muscles around the elbow are what causes the initial problem. After an injury, the tendons do not get enough time to heal appropriately and continued use results in the development of tendonosis as described above.
Common symptoms of Tennis elbow are persistent elbow pain, a burning sensation on the outside of the elbow and weak grip strength.
What Can I do if I am Suffering From Tennis Elbow?
Once diagnosed, you should pay more attention to your elbow and the sports you engage in. You should seek to rehabilitate your tennis elbow through several different means, which are described below:
- Take Breaks
You should make sure to give your elbow enough rest and take regular breaks in between tasks that engage your elbow. Try to only perform strenuous actions for no more than 15-30 minutes before taking a break.
- Use Tape or Braces
Tape and braces help support and stabilise your weak muscles and joints, providing a more even distribution of the workload. This reduces strain on the tendon and reduces further degradation.
- Eat the Right Food
Food rich in collagen, vitamin C, and zinc all can help repair your tendons. Supplements are good as well, but you should consult your healthcare professional to see if these are suitable options for you.
There is no better form of rehabilitation of your tennis elbow than exercise. Physical therapy in the form of strength training and stretching is a sure-fire way to improve your elbow health and reduce elbow pain.
When Should I See a Doctor for Tennis Elbow?
You should see a doctor if your pain intensifies and does not seem to go away no matter what you do. Some key signs to see a doctor are:
- Discolouration of your elbow
- Moving your elbow becomes excruciatingly painful
- Your elbow feels warmer to touch than the rest of your body
What Are Some Easy Exercises for Patients Suffering From Tennis Elbow?
Here are some easy exercises that you can do at home post-treatment to regain active range of motion in your elbow.
In severe cases which fail non-operative management, our doctors may consider doing scans to assess the injury and degree of tear of the common extensor tendon origin, and may discuss the options of repairing the damaged tendon.