Pain that occurs on the outside upper forearm, below the elbow and radiates down toward the wrist is often called tennis elbow. There are other ailments that are often thought to be tennis elbow but are in fact not. Tennis elbow generates pain when gripping, lifting or bending the arm and perhaps even while grabbing objects, even if they are light. Full extension of the forearm is also difficult. Generally, the pain from tennis elbow can last months and normally 5-12 weeks is common. However, in some cases, pain from tennis elbow has lasted years.
Tennis elbow is caused by small tears in the tendon and muscles in the area. Once a tendon has torn in the area, re-tearing is common. When it does, hemorrhaging can occur as well as granulated tissue and calcium deposits that result. In some cases, tennis elbow can cut off the blood flow and cause a pinching of the radial nerve which controls movement to the arm and hand.
It is not just the tennis player who is affected by tennis elbow. Laborers, office workers and anyone who uses constant repetition of movement in the elbow can get tennis elbow. Treatment normally includes resting the area, massaging the area and exercise to gradually improve muscle tone and movement. Anti inflammatory agents are often given to help relieve the discomfort and usually works for about ¾ of the sufferers. Occasionally, stronger medications may be prescribed. Surgery is only needed rarely. In fact, only 3% of those who suffer from tennis elbow require surgery.
Re-injury to the area is common once you have had tennis elbow and often, the pain from the second bout can be more severe. Getting into the habit of stretching the arm and “warming it up” before use can help prevent re injury. If the pain and swelling from tennis elbow becomes too severe, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection which in many cases results in almost immediate reduction of pain. However, the pain can come back and you should also guard against a false sense of security that can come one the pain is alleviated. The area is still injured, even if there is no pain.
Although often confused as tennis elbow, there are other ailments which affect that area, such as bursitis and a condition known as golfers elbow. A doctor will be able to diagnose the problem but generally, the pain begins and affects a different part of the elbow in these cases. Tennis elbow is normally painful on the outside of the elbow and radiates down. Any prolonged pain in the joints should be checked by a doctor. That is especially true once you have already had tennis elbow, since re injury is so common. The elbow, like most other joints, is susceptible to injury due to the vulnerability of the area. Elbows, hips, knees, shoulders; they all are prone to injury at one time or another and need medical assistance.