Tennis Elbow

The injury Also known as lateral epicondyle, tennis elbow is characterized by pain over the lateral (outside) aspect of the elbow, which may radiate down the forearm. Despite the name, this condition does not just afflict tennis professionals. In fact, this common problem( it affects about 3% of the population) is most often associated with work related activities, although racquet sports players are more prone to the condition and account for approximately 5% of all sufferers. Tennis elbow is equally common in men and women, peaking in peaking in prevalence between the ages of 30 and 50. Tennis elbow is inflammation of the muscles of the forearm as they attach to the upper arm bone. This inflammation is caused by prolonged gripping activities such as hammering, driving screws, weight lifting, playing certain musical instruments, canoeing, digging in the garden, driving and, of course, racquet sports. Signs and Symptoms Tennis elbow is very easy to diagnose. There is pain when the lateral epicedial (outermost part of the elbow) is touched, and also if the elbow is straight and the hand is moved forward and back at the wrist. The pain is exacerbated by gripping activities and in some cases simple things like turning a door handle can cause intense pain. Tennis elbow is differentiated from a fracture of the elbow and osteoarthritis of the elbow joint by x-ray investigation. Rheumatoid disease would usually affect more than one joint and is confirmed by blood tests. Pain in the elbow region can be referred from a problem in the neck or shoulder and theses should be thoroughly examined in order to eliminate them before a diagnosis of tennis elbow is made. Treatment Since tennis elbow is an inflammatory condition, the obvious treatment would be a course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), prescribed by a GP. Some GPs may even inject the affected area with a corticosteroid (a naturally occurring substance which can settle down inflammation). Ice packs are a cheap and effective treatment for tennis elbow, applied for ten minutes every couple of hours (never apply ice directly to the skin). These treatments have the effect of reducing the inflammation and pain that is present. However, it is important to rest the arm for about 2 weeks to allow the tissue to heal itself. Otherwise the treatment will simply mask the pain while the condition gets worse. After a 2 weeks rest from any activities that involve gripping and making a fist, the pain usually subsides.

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