Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is inflammation of the insertion of the extensor muscles of the forearm at the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, situated just above the elbow joint. Over use of this muscle involving actions or movements of wrist extension, for example as in typing, writing, painting and holding any object tightly in the hand with the wrist bent can all cause this problem besides playing tennis!

Tennis elbow is inflammation of the insertion of the extensor muscles of the forearm at the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, situated just above the elbow joint. Over use of this muscle involving actions or movements of wrist extension, for example as in typing, writing, painting and holding any object tightly in the hand with the wrist bent can all cause this problem besides playing tennis!

It is more the repetitiveness over a short space of time that can lead to this problem occurring. If when the first symptoms occurred care was taken to rest the arm and stop the action, it would probably settle quite quickly.

The main problem is that often we try and work through the symptoms especially if we are trying to finish a job like decorating, and once the area has gone from acutely inflamed to chronically inflamed it is very difficult to settle it down.

Rest is the first course of action. Sometimes stretching the tight muscles can help. Ice packing the area where it is sore also helps as does taking a mild anti-inflammatory drug. Using anti-inflammatory gel/cream can help if applied regularly over the area, also equally as effective is Arnica cream, a Homeopathic remedy normally used for bruising.

In severe cases it is useful to try hydrocortisone injection into the insertion area, and normally this treatment can only be given twice in a year as the steroid can adversely damage and soften the periosteal surface of the bone.

In instances where it is impossible not to use the wrist/arm it may be of benefit to try one of the many tennis elbow supports available. They are designed to either splint and support the wrist allowing less work for the muscles to do, or they form a tight supportive band below the elbow making a false, temporary new insertion area for the extensor muscle groups allowing the true one time to settle down.

Surgery is the final resort for some, where the extensor muscles and their adhesions are separated to reduce the tension at the insertion area. Many people have benefited from physiotherapy and Osteopathy where other underlying problems may be identified that can be attributed factors.

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