“Tennis elbow” refers to a variety of injuries of the elbow. These injuries include:
• strains and tears of the forearm muscle as it connects to the tendon, which in turn connects to the bone
• partial tears of the tendon where it connects to the elbow bone
• inflammation at the muscle-tendon or tendon-bone juncture caused by the repeated trauma of forceful wrist extension
• development of adhesions at the elbow due to the inflammation described above
Tennis elbow is characterized by the following symptoms:
• tenderness over the bone on the outside of the elbow
• limited wrist flexion (bending the wrist forward)
• pain with gripping and wrist extension (bending the wrist back)
When tennis elbow develops, it is wise to see your physician for advice and treatment. Your doctor can help you from a medical standpoint and may refer you to a physical therapist for specialized treatment. The advice we give here is general in nature, and is not a substitute for the care your personal physician can give you.
During the early phase of tennis elbow, the initial pain can be treated with ice, massage, and rest. An elastic wrap around the forearm and elbow may be helpful. Following this acute pain phase, exercises to improve flexibility and increase strength and endurance are recommended. A forearm band may be worn over the upper forearm. It reduces the sliding of the tendons over the bone at the elbow, and acts as a reminder to not over-strain the area. Your doctor or physical therapist may provide you with a forearm band. Heat or ice may be applied for pain management before and/or after exercise.
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