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Tennis Elbow Symptoms and Relief
Tennis Elbow, The onset of pain, on the outside
(lateral) of the elbow, is usually
gradual with tenderness felt on or
below the joint's bony
prominence. Movements such as
gripping, lifting and carrying tend
to be troublesome.
Symptoms Of Tennis Elbow
Recurring pain on the outside of the upper forearm just below the bend of the elbow;
occasionally, pain radiates down the arm toward the wrist.
Pain caused by lifting or bending the arm or grasping even light objects such as a coffee cup.
Difficulty extending the forearm fully (because of inflamed muscles, tendons and ligaments).
Pain that typically lasts for 6 to 12 weeks; the discomfort can continue for as little as 3 weeks
or as long as several years.
The damage that tennis elbow incurs consists of tiny tears in a part of the tendon and in muscle
coverings. After the initial injury heals, these areas often tear again, which leads to hemorrhaging and
the formation of rough, granulated tissue and calcium deposits within the surrounding tissues.
Collagen, a protein, leaks out from around the injured areas, causing inflammation. The resulting
pressure can cut off the blood flow and pinch the radial nerve, one of the major nerves controlling
muscles in the arm and hand.
Tendons, which attach muscles to bones, do not receive the same amount of oxygen and blood that
muscles do, so they heal more slowly. In fact, some cases of tennis elbow can last for years, though
the inflammation usually subsides in 6 to 12 weeks.
Many medical textbooks treat tennis elbow as a form of tendonitis, which is often the case, but if the
muscles and bones of the elbow joint are also involved, then the condition is called epicondylitis.
However, if you feel pain directly on the back of your elbow joint, rather than down the outside of your
arm, you may have bursitis, which is caused when lubricating sacs in the joint become inflamed. If
you see swelling, which is almost never a symptom of tennis elbow, you may want to investigate other
possible conditions, such as arthritis, infection, gout or a tumor.
Relief Of Tennis Elbow
The best way to relieve tennis elbow is to stop doing anything that irritates your arm ? a simple step
for the weekend tennis player, but not as easy for the manual laborer, office worker, or professional
The most effective conventional and alternative treatments for tennis elbow have the same basic
premise: Rest the arm until the pain disappears, then massage to relieve stress and tension in the
muscles, and exercise to strengthen the area and prevent re-injury. If you must go back to whatever
caused the problem in the first place, be sure to warm up your arm for at least 5 to 10 minutes with
gentle stretching and movement before starting any activity. Take frequent breaks.
Conventional medicine offers an assortment of treatments for tennis elbow, from drug injections to
surgery, but the pain will never go away completely unless you stop stressing the joint. Re-injury is
inevitable without adequate rest.
For most mild to moderate cases of tennis elbow, aspirin or ibuprofen will help address the
inflammation and the pain while you are resting the injury, and then you can follow up with exercise
and massage to speed healing.
For stubborn cases of tennis elbow your doctor may advise corticosteroid injections, which
dramatically reduce inflammation, but they cannot be used long-term because of potentially damaging
side effects. If rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and a stretching routine fail to cure your tennis elbow, you may
have to consider surgery, though this form of treatment is rare (fewer than 3 percent of patients). One
procedure is for the tendon to be cut loose from the epicondyle, the rounded bump at the end of the
bone, which eliminates stress on the tendon but renders the muscle useless. Another surgical
technique involves removing so-called granulated tissue in the tendon and repairing tears.
Even after you feel you have overcome a case of tennis elbow, be sure to continue babying your arm.
Always warm up your arm for 5 to 10 minutes before starting any activity involving your elbow. And if
you develop severe pain after use anyway, pack your arm in ice for 15 to 20 minutes and call your
To prevent tennis elbow:
Lift objects with your palm facing your body.
Try strengthening exercises with hand weights. With your elbow cocked and your palm down,
repeatedly bend your wrist. Stop if you feel any pain.
Stretch relevant muscles before beginning a possibly stressful activity by grasping the top part
of your fingers and gently but firmly pulling them back toward your body. Keep your arm fully
extended and your palm facing outward.
To prevent a relapse:
Discontinue or modify the action that is causing the strain on your elbow joint. If you must
continue, be sure to warm up for 10 minutes or more before any activity involving your arm, and
apply ice to it afterward. Take more frequent breaks.
Try strapping a band around your forearm just below your elbow. If the support seems to help
you lift objects such as heavy books, then continue with it. Be aware that such bands can cut
off circulation and impede healing, so they are best used once tennis elbow has disappeared.
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