What Is Tennis Elbow And How Is It Treated?

The chances are that you will have heard the phrase ‘tennis elbow’ with regard to injury deriving from sport or other activities but what is it and how is it treated?
The common name for lateral epicondylitis is tennis elbow and this refers to a degree of pain felt on the outside of the elbow that can be relatively mild or much more painful. Although the phrase itself is fairly well-known, the number of adults who suffer from it each year in the United Kingdom is said to be around five in one thousand.

What are the symptoms?
Besides the aforementioned pain and discomfort on the outside of your elbow, with this condition you will feel tenderness in this area too. It is also fairly common to experience pain down your forearm as well as an increased adverse reaction when you partake in movements that require your arm or elbow to twist. The symptoms are not always totally identical for each person but there will generally be pain caused when writing, gripping, lifting or bending the arm and the discomfort on the outside of your elbow will be a recurring one.
How is it treated?
The effects of tennis elbow vary but it is found that the majority of cases tend to last for a period of between six months to two years, though a large proportion of people affected recovery fully in the first year. Treatment is required due to the pain and the immediate option would be painkillers. Ibuprofen and paracetamol are suggested as considerable helps for those suffering from mild pain but the tendons will heal over time so surgery is often not needed. There are other anti-inflammatories that may help including piroxicam and ketoprofen and if there is a particular restriction being suffered with regard to movement a course of corticosteroid injections can be effective in the reasonably short-term. Acupuncture is sometimes recommended, as is physiotherapy which will include massaging the affected area and giving you exercises to do in your own time. The use of shock waves passing through your skin is another option but this may require you to be anaesthetised.
As with a lot of other injuries if all alternative avenues have been explored without any success then surgery is seen as the last resort. With tennis elbow surgery what will happen is a small incision will be made and if there is a further problem with your joint then this too can be treated. The operation itself actually only takes around half an hour and it is not necessary for a stay in hospital overnight.
Article written by Damien McCarthy representing www.irishfit.eu who offer triathlon and fitness equipment and accessories, with a range of clinical services Dublin.