What is Tennis Elbow?


Tennis Elbow

Image by RLHyde via Flickr

Tennis Elbow is not actually an elbow problem. It is not a problem with the ligaments of the elbow, though they can become involved depending on your specific situation.

It's a 'problem' of the muscle, connective tissue, and tendon that attaches to your elbow bone. But people call it Elbow Tendonitis anyway.

On the other side of the elbow is Golfers Elbow….which I guess makes them both Elbow Tendonitis….More at Dec 4, What is Tennis Elbow? Effectively Treating Tennis Elbow. Tennis Elbow Therapy.

What Causes Tennis Elbow?

Any activity that involves repetitive motion can cause tennis elbow such as knitting, hammering, etc.  Ironically only a handful of people develop tennis elbow from playing tennis.

While caused by many activities, the one most commonly associated with this type of overuse injury is Tennis and other racquet sports…More at Dec 4, What is Tennis Elbow? Effectively Treating Tennis Elbow. Tennis Elbow Therapy.

Treatment for Tennis Elbow:

Before you can treat tennis elbow, you need to know how you developed it in the first place.  You must get to the “root” of the problem so to speak if you are to eliminate this type of tendonitis, as well as the associated chronic pain and inflammation that goes with it.


There are a large number of options for Tennis Elbow Treatment.

Unfortunately, almost all of them fail to cure Tennis Elbow, much less make a significant, lasting difference.

For ALL types of treatment for Tennis Elbow, it is vital to keep in mind that while we -think- that our body heals itself from Tendonitis issues like Tennis Elbow….

…the way our body actually heals leaves our structure primed for more pain and damage in the future….More at Dec 4, What is Tennis Elbow? Effectively Treating Tennis Elbow. Tennis Elbow Therapy.


Steroid Treatment for Tennis Elbow

Do you suffer from tennis elbow?  It is a painful condition that is caused by overuse.  It is the inflammation of the tendons that stems from the forearm to the outside of the elbow due to repeated twisting of the wrist. 

Tennis Elbow

Image by bluesmoon via Flickr

THE QUESTION The burning elbow pain and weak grip of the condition nicknamed tennis elbow are often treated with steroid injections and physical therapy. How much do these treatments help?…More at Steroid shots for tennis elbow may do more harm than good in the long term – Washington Post


Surprisingly the answer is that in the long haul, these steroid injections are more harmful than beneficial.  A study was conducted with 165 participants of the average age of 50. Some of the participants were given an injection of a corticosteroid and others a placebo over 4-6 weeks.  The participants that were given an injection seemed to have decreased pain during physical therapy in the first few weeks.  However, over the course of a year, the patients that received the placebo had less pain.  Physical therapy didn't present much help in either group.

If you are suffering from tennis elbow or some other form of tendonitis, there are a number of exercises and treatments available to you short of steroid treatments.

What is Tennis Elbow?

So the question is:  “How do you get tennis elbow and NOT play tennis?” I thought that tennis elbow was due to someone who played a lot of tennis! This is not the case.   Learn more about this painful and sometimes irritating problem.

Tennis elbow, medically named lateral epicondylitis, is an inflammatory condition affecting the outside of the elbow.

This elbow pain is due to tendonitis and periostitis (inflammation of the outer layer of the bone) where the tendon for the common wrist extensor muscles attaches to the humerus. This results in pain with any activity involving the contraction or moderate stretching of the wrist extensor muscles.

These activities would include writing, typing, lifting objects while the palm is turned down, or using a screwdriver. The pain usually has a gradual onset with no visible swelling. Stiffness or pain in the elbow is usually evident after prolonged periods of rest.

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Since tennis elbow affects the straightening of the wrist, you can test for it by lifting a weight, such as a book, with your palm facing down. Any pain in the outside of the elbow suggests you have tennis elbow.

This condition is ultimately due to overuse of the wrist extensor muscles. These muscles attach to the humerus just above the elbow joint on the outside of the elbow. The muscles then continue down the back of the forearm. The tendons then travel across the back of the wrist and hand and connect onto the fingers. These muscles contract to help extend the wrist moving it toward the back of the hand.

In time, because too much tension on the muscles can decrease the joint space in the elbow, the condition can progress to inflammation of the joint itself. This can then result not just in the typical tennis elbow pain, but also pain and stiffness in the joint itself.

Treatment usually involves taking anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant medication, along with some lifestyle modification. Also used are physiotherapy treatments such as TENS, laser therapy, ultrasound, and interferential current.

Chiropractic treatments are also helpful. These include soft-tissue techniques such as Graston, active release, or cross-fiber friction massage. Chiropractic adjustment of the elbow joint, can also bring relief.

With adjusting, the two joint surfaces are spread apart an estimated one to three millimeters momentarily. This leads to an increase in volume and decrease in pressure in the joint. This will assist in the decrease in pain from the pressure built up in the joint from the condition of lateral epicondylitis. Adjusting of the wrist may be of some benefit as well.

The theory is that since the muscles involved with this condition help to move the wrist, it should aid in the speed of recovery if the wrist motion is maintained. If the wrist tightens, the muscles need to work harder to move the wrist. This results in tightness in the wrist extensors which then exacerbates the condition.

The use of a tennis elbow band may also prove effective in decreasing symptoms. This works by forming an artificial origin for the muscle before it crosses the elbow. This allows a decrease in tension of the wrist extensor muscles as they cross the elbow which eases tension on the lateral epicondyle and decreases pressure on the elbow.

Also, though rest would be ideal, there may be times when lifting is needed to be done. In this case, one should only attempt to lift with the palm of the hand turned upward. This uses the wrist flexors more than the wrist extensors.

Two things that have been found to help is to limit salt intake to help reduce water resorption in the body and to supplement with Vitamin B6.

It is best to check with your medical doctor or chiropractic professional if you feel that you have this condition for with proper assessment, a treatment plan can be initiated will help with accelerated recovery.

As you can see there is more to tennis elbow than just playing tennis. If you are having a problem with tennis elbow, try a rubber tennis elbow band. These seem to work very good for some people.

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Causes of Elbow Tendonitis

Elbow tendinitis usually occurs when you overuse the muscles in the forearm.  This causes inflammation and pain around the elbow joint.  The reason for elbow tendonitis to appear is different from person to person.  It can happen from a single and violent action or because of repetitive stress injury (RSI) which is very common.

You can also occur when an action is being performed over and over again and this causes the pain to develop.

Elbow tendonitis happens in athletes

Usually elbow tendonitis happens in tennis players and golfers, but it can happen in every one.  The pain starts to intensify when the offending action increases.  Elbow tendonitis is very common in athletes, but it has been known to happen when a weekend carpenter uses his hand tools.

This condition of elbow tendonitis will not result in any long lasting disability.  It very rarely requires surgery for treatment.  The easiest way to treat elbow tendonitis is with rest and rehabilitation.  You can also take some anti-inflammatory drugs that will ease the pain and these can be taken orally.

Can Affect Everyone Though It Is Most Common To Golfers and Tennis Players

In case normal anti-inflammatory medications fail, then cortisone injections may be taken. Tendons that attach the bones at the elbow can often become inflamed and these tendons arise from the movement of muscles that move the wrist, and because the wrist is used for many functions, it is not surprising that elbow tendonitis occurs a lot in these tendons.

Also, many tennis players are affected that use a lot of forceful wrist movements, and such a condition is commonly referred to as a “tennis elbow“.  In spite of tennis players being most often struck, elbow tendonitis can occur in any person that uses their wrists and hands routinely, and even office workers that spend a lot of time using the phone, fax or computer and filing and other repetitive activities are just as liable to be struck with this condition.

Elbow Tendonitis is Treatable

The good news is that elbow tendonitis is almost always treatable and curable as well. The best treatment for elbow tendonitis is of course taking a lot of rest from activities that cause the symptoms to appear. One may also use ice on the inflamed tendons of the elbow for about twenty minutes, twice or thrice daily to get relief from it.

Elbow tendonitis can affect the patient’s ability to perform normal routine activities and will thus require rehabilitation which should aim to reduce pain, increase flexibility as well as strengthen as well as restore function.

You may have to get an evaluation to see how much strength you have.  What you have to do is determine the activities that are causing the elbow tendonitis condition to arise.  To get the elbow back in shape, you should get some kind of advice that will require you to follow certain routines and also you will need to make simple adjustments to prevent the elbow tendonitis from recurring.

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