Tennis Elbow, Part II

Almost 95 percent of people who suffer from tennis elbow will respond to conservative treatment.  This involves activities designed to decrease the inflammatory process as well as strengthen the muscles of the forearm.  Additionally, the use of a tennis elbow brace, a compression band placed around the upper forearm, may provide relief and reduce tension at the attatch,ent of the tendon.

The mainstays of the initial treatment plan are R.I.C.E., Rest the affected part, Ice massage over the elbow, Compression with an elastic bandage and Elevation of the elbow to decrease inflammation.  Additionally, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents such as Advil, Aleve, Nuprin or other prescription agents as prescribed by your doctor may be needed to blunt the inflammatory process.  In cases of persistent lateral epicondylitis, an injection of cortisone can be used to decrease pain and inflammation so that rehabilitative exercises are tolerable.

Exercises to strengthen the muscles of the forearm are the most important component of the rehabilitation of tennis elbow.  These can all be performed with nothing more exotic than a two-pound hammer.  There are seven exercises known as the “super 7″.  These involve two wrist stretches, four specific forearm exercises, and the seventh is a friction massage over the area of soreness.

If after several months of conservative therapy you have not had a significant reduction in pain and/or increase in strength, then surgery may be necessary to return you to sport or work.  The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, after which you are kept in a splint for 7-10 days and then progressive stretching and strengthening is performed.

Prevention of tennis elbow is extremely important.  Warming up the forearm muscles and stretching should be part of every athlete’s regimen.  Strengthening of the forearm muscles also decreases the chances of injury.  Changes in equipment, such as a lighter racquet, can also reduce the likelihood of suffering this troublesome injury.

Tags: athletic, Dr Gary Levengood, elbow, elbow pain, exercise, forearm, orthopedic, orthopedic surgery, Physical Therapy, prevention, rehabilitation, sports medicine, sports medicine south, tennis elbow
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Tennis Elbow hits more than just tennis players, Part I

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Have you ever experienced that sharp pain in your elbow after a long day of tennis?  If you have, you are among the 50 percent of tennis players who experience tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis.

This diagnosis is also common in other athletes such as baseball players, swimmers, and in manual laborers such as carpenters, plumbers, and anyone whose sport or job requires a repetitive arm motion.  This repetitive motion causes inflammation of the muscles and tendons on the outside of the elbow (lateral) which causes these tendons to become frayed and inflamed.

Tennis elbow is most commonly found in the 35-50 age group and occurs equally between men and women.  The most common cause is through overuse, although a direct blow to the elbow can also initiate these symptoms.  the pain in tennis elbow is exacerbated by continued use. or any activity in which the wrist is extended or bent backward.  An additional complaint in tennis elbow is weakness in the wrist extensors and decreased grip strength in the hand.  If ignored or left untreated, atrophy of the forearm muscles occurs.

Diagnosis of tennis elbow usually involves an exam of the elbow as well as x-rays of the elbow, which may show calcium deposits over the lateral epicondyle.  this calcification is the body’s attempt to heal this chronic inflammatory process.  This spur formation occurs in around 20 percent of sufferers.

In part II, we will review the treatment and prevention of Tennis Elbow.