Symptoms of tennis elbow
Symptoms of tennis elbow typically include:
- Increasing pain around the outside of the elbow
- Pain with gripping or squeezing objects
- Swelling and inflammation
Causes of tennis elbow
Tennis elbow is typically caused by over-activity of the surrounding muscles, which are used to straighten the wrist. If the muscles and tendons become strained or sprained, small tears and inflammation can occur around the lateral epicondyle on the outside of the elbow. As the name implies, tennis elbow is often caused by playing tennis. However, it is also caused by other activities that involve repeated pressure on the elbow joint.
Tennis elbow treatment
Tennis elbow is self-limiting, meaning it will eventually resolve without treatment. Despite this, there are treatments that help improve the symptoms, reduce the pain and accelerate recovery. Be sure to cease any aggravating activity and rest the injured arm. In most cases, tennis elbow lasts anywhere between six months and two years. Ninety percent of cases see a full recovery within a year.
- Cold compress, such as Physicool, to help reduce the pain and swelling
- Painkillers and anti-inflammatories
- Physiotherapy may be recommended by a doctor, although only in severe cases. Massaging the area may help the pain to subside and improve mobility of the arm
- Surgery – although only as a final resort, to remove the damaged tendon
The PRICE approach is recommended by NHS Choices:
- Protection – protect the injured area from further injury – using a support bandage if appropriate
- Rest – stop the activity that caused the injury, and rest the injured joint or muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injury
- Ice – for the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, apply a cooling therapy like Physicool
- Compression – compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further
- Elevation – keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling Physicool provides the key stages of PRICE in a single reusable bandage, providing protection, cooling and compression for the elbow injury to help the healing process.
A size A Physicool bandage should be applied to the elbow injury to draw pain and heat away from the injury by rapid evaporation. While the deep tissues are being cooled, the simultaneous compression effects of Physicool will modify the inflammatory response to soft tissue damage which helps promote healing.
The elbow joint is surrounded by muscles that provide movement for the elbow, wrist and fingers. The tendons within the elbow connect the bones and muscles, and operate the muscles of the forearm. Tennis elbow is the name given to overuse of the arm, forearm and hand muscles, resulting in elbow pain. It became known as such due to its prevalence among tennis players.