By Brian Acton
Tennis elbow is a painful condition that can be caused by sports, workplace tasks, and other activities with frequent repetitive motions. Despite its name, athletes are far from the only people that can develop tennis elbow.
Symptoms include pain and weakness, and the condition can continue to recur if you don’t deal with it correctly. Here’s what tennis elbow is, how it is caused, how it can be prevented, and what to do if you experience symptoms.
What Tennis Elbow Is
Also known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is a common injury that affects the muscles and tendons in your forearm. It occurs when tears develop in the tendons on the elbow side of your extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle.
The condition is characterized by inflammation of the elbow, and symptoms include pain on the outer part of the elbow and weakened grip strength. Over time, this pain may affect your ability to lift and grip objects.
When left untreated and unaddressed, tennis elbow can become chronic.
What Causes Tennis Elbow
Any activity that involves repetitive motions that put strain on the elbow can cause tennis elbow. It’s essentially an overuse injury, and any sport, job, or other activity that involves the same elbow motions over and over again can contribute to the condition (adults between the age of 30 and 50 are most likely to develop tennis elbow).
Jobs that are high risk for tennis elbow include:
• Assembly line workers
How to Prevent Tennis Elbow
The best way to prevent tennis elbow is to avoid the repetitive motions that cause it. If you find yourself moving your forearm and elbow in the same repetitive motion frequently, some prevention tips include:
• Involving the larger muscles of your shoulder and upper arm in repetitive tasks to distribute the stress and workload.
• Getting coaching tips to improve your technique for any sport that puts you at risk.
• Making sure to warm up, stretch, and build the muscles of your arm to guard against injury.
• Using lightweight tools and sports equipment whenever possible.
• Resting and taking frequent breaks from repetitive motions to give your elbow a break.
Treating Tennis Elbow
If you are experiencing symptoms of tennis elbow, you should consult your doctor. In extreme, chronic cases, your doctor may recommend surgery. But in most cases, your doctor may recommend some combination of rest, rehabilitation, physical therapy, exercise, and over-the-counter pain relief.
An elbow support strap can help you complete everyday tasks as you recover. Tennis elbow straps reduce elbow pain by applying pressure to the affected tendons and reducing stress on the injury, helping you continue to grip and lift things and avoiding reinjury.