Tennis Elbow or lateral epicondylitis affects the outer portion of the elbow making it painful and tender. There arises a problem, typically understood to be microscopic tears, in the tendons (attachments of the muscles) attached to the outside of the elbow. When these are incompletely mended, it causes the muscle to attach itself to that outer part of the elbow called the lateral epicondyle. Tennis elbow is believed to be a degenerative process spurred on by repetitive use.
Individuals afflicted with tennis elbow suffer from pain on the outside of the elbow that increases when they clutch objects and elevate, extend the wrist. It is most common in sportspersons (especially racquet sports) as well as manual labourers.
When to seek tennis elbow treatment
The onset of the following symptoms and signs should act as a signal to consult a qualified medical health professional for undergoing tennis elbow treatment:
- Experiencing difficulty in carrying items or even simply using your arm
- Elbow pain that begins and persists at night or while resting
- Outer elbow pain that continues beyond a few days
- Inability or incapacity to straighten, unbend, flex or loosen your arm
- Swelling or significant bruising around the elbow joint or arm
Tennis elbow treatment options
Tennis elbow treatment is a process that takes a certain amount of time to take effect. It is not a line of action that will yield instant results. Most medical experts are of the opinion that a patient should only abandon one line of treatment if it does not alleviate or reduce the pain after a sufficient passage of time. The rationale being that the effects are slow to start with but it is observed that continuing treatment for a reasonable amount of time is beneficial. The following are the options available:
- Lifestyle changes: Doctors recommend that modifying the way you carry out simple everyday activities (carrying/lifting) can cause the pain to subside.
- Anti-inflammatory medications are also prescribed to curb the pain and discomfort
- Another very commonly used form of treatment is cortisone injections. The general dosage required is 2 injections.
- An elbow brace or clasp is used to redirect, restrict the pull of the awry muscles.
- Tennis elbow exercises are also a proven from of treatment. Physiotherapists often also recommend the use of a new tool called Thera-Band FlexBar, which strengthens your muscles.
- Extracorporeal shock wave therapy: A controversial alternative with inconclusive findings regarding its effectiveness, this option induces micro-trauma in the tissue that is believed to reduce pain.
- Autologous Blood Injection and Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP): The former involves an injection using your own blood, and injected into the damaged tendon, in order to kindle a healing reaction. PRP on the other hand is a concentration of platelet cells taken from your blood, which have growth factors that may help to heal injuries.
- Surgical options include removing a part of the injured tendon. A repair of the healthy portion of tendon is also possible. In addition, arthroscopic elbow surgery has become an alternative for some.
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