Despite the name, you do not need to be a professional tennis player to fall victim to “tennis elbow”. Tennis elbow often doesn't even have anything to do with tennis.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow (known as lateral epicondylitis) is a term for an injury to the outside of your elbow that can be caused by lifting weights, gardening, poor lifting mechanics, typing at a computer for long periods of time, or even a blow to the outside of your elbow.
Essentially, it is the inflammation and/or damage of the tendons that attach to the bone on the outside of the elbow. The stress of repetitive wrist and hand motions such as gripping, lifting, or twisting movements increase stress on these tendons over time, which can lead to injury.
Tennis elbow can be acute (brought on suddenly by trauma), develop slowly to a constant pain over several weeks or months, or even be an underlying chronic issue that only causes pain when a specific movement is caused.
Preventing Tennis Elbow
Because tennis elbow has a variety of causes and different presentations, it is important to be aware of any activity, position that increases pain or irritation. Other ways to prevent tennis elbow include:
- Performing a warm-up and stretches prior to activity or throughout the workday.
- Maintaining both flexibility and strength in your forearm, upper arm, and shoulder muscles.
- Modifying your grip to a larger handle when possible.
- Using your non-dominant hand (or two hands) for repetitive gripping or lifting when possible.
- Using proper body mechanics when lifting objects and carry objects close to your body.
- Switching your grip or swing when playing sports.
How to Treat Tennis Elbow
If you have pain with repetitive activity or at rest, you should stop performing the activity and if possible, follow up with a medical professional. You can also stop by a NovaCare Clinic for a free injury screening. Prolonged rest from the activity, modification of the activity, as well as icing to the painful area would assist in managing pain symptoms. Visit this link to learn more about NovaCare and find out about complimentary injury screenings!