You don’t have to play tennis to get tennis elbow. It’s one of the most common causes of elbow pain, and it can happen to virtually anyone. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is a repetitive strain injury impacting your elbow. It’s a type of tendonitis that affects the tendons that attach your forearm muscles to the outer side of your elbow.
Tennis elbow is more appropriately called “lateral epicondylitis” because it affects the tendons at your lateral (outer side) epicondyle (the bony protrusion of your elbow). Its counterpart, medial epicondylitis or golfer’s elbow, affects the inner side of the elbow.
Tennis elbow causes soreness or pain and, depending on the severity of the condition, swelling. Pain may radiate down the arm to the wrist, and the more you use your forearm, the worse symptoms become.
You may find it painful or even difficult to do simple tasks such as turning a doorknob or holding a cup, which require twisting your wrist, gripping, or bending your wrist back. Resting the affected arm and wrist generally helps improve symptoms.
Causes of Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow happens when you overuse the muscles that bend your hand and wrist backward. When subjected to too much strain or repetitive use, the tendons connecting these muscles at the elbow can develop small tears, leading to pain and inflammation.
Motions like a backhand tennis stroke strain these tendons and can lead to tennis elbow. But any similar action done repeatedly can have the same effect.
Other everyday activities that can cause tennis elbow if overdone:
- Typing and use of a computer mouse
- Painting with a paint roller
- Food prep requiring a lot of cutting
- Use of tools that require a lot of gripping and twisting, such as manually screwing in screws or using plumbing tools
- Playing a musical instrument
While anyone can have tennis elbow, it’s most common among people ages 30-50 — possibly because of their activity level. It is also more common among people who play racquet sports and those with jobs that involve repetitive arm and wrist motions.
Tennis Elbow Treatment
Treatment for tennis elbow usually consists of resting the elbow and modifying your activities to reduce strain, adding elbow support when using the affected elbow, and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen for pain and inflammation.
A compression sleeve or elbow brace can also help reduce pain and relieve strain on the tendons, allowing them to heal.
What’s the Best Brace for Tennis Elbow?
A tennis elbow brace is a narrow (usually 2-inch) strap that wraps around the forearm right below the elbow and puts pressure on the forearm muscles, reducing strain on the tendons. While the actual injury occurs at the elbow, wrist motion contributes to the strain that causes the damage. In addition to a tennis elbow strap, some people may find that wearing a wrist brace or immobilizing the wrist with athletic tape may aid in recovery.
Visit Simply Medical for all your brace and orthopedic support products.