Tennis Elbow Risk of Injury Increasing
Physical fitness has become an increasingly vital focus of the way we live our lives today. Where as late as the 1970s or 1980s we might have had lifestyles that were more sedentary than anything, these days we live a considerably different way. Many more of us are into sports and basic fitness now, even in comparably casual ways. More people than ever are into this sort of activity on a recreational level, which is truly heartening given the need to counterbalance our otherwise very unhealthful world. Take the game of tennis, for example. Growing in demand and popularity and seen as a sport with longevity. Unless of course you suffer from tennis elbow. Today, people take up sports and active recreation at a very young age, which develops habits that they need going forward.
Tennis Elbow: A Common Condition Among Active Athletes
The aforementioned tennis elbow, and it’s associated tennis elbow pain relief, is a fairly common condition and remedy often desired. This is brought about by a swelling of the tendons in the affected area. Tendons are bands of tissue that link muscle to bone, and our joints make particularly good use of them in order to facilitate movement. Inflammation of the tendons can cause pain in the indicated area, and tennis elbow is one such common name applied to this condition. Contrary to what the name suggests, of course, this is not a tennis-exclusive injury that is easily avoided by people who stay far away from the tennis court – this is brought on by any repetitive gripping, particularly if done with the thumb and first two fingers.
Tennis elbow, as previously mentioned, is brought about by repetitive motions that involve gripping. The ailment gets its name from the constant albeit on-and-off gripping seen in tennis, as well as racquetball, fencing, squash and other sports like weight lifting or fencing. This sort of damage can also be seen in other activities that are characterized by repetitive gripping arm movements, such as painting, typing, carpentry, yard work with yard tools, and so on. The stress this puts on the tendon varies according to the intensity and duration of the grip, of course, but over time the cumulative tugging on the tendons can wear the tissue out, to the point of causing microscopic tears.
Tennis Elbow Pain Symptoms
What are the symptoms of tennis elbow? Mainly, there is pain in the bony portion on the outside of the elbow. This knoblike protrusion is where the tendon connects the muscle to the bone, and if the tendons are affected it will happen here. Pain may be felt in this specific area, as well as radiating upward or downward along the upper or lower arm. While the actual damage is in the elbow itself, the pain can be bad enough to keep you from doing things using your hands. This includes the gripping itself, or lifting, opening doors, raising your hand or straightening your wrist. If this sounds aggravating, it’s because it is – as with most injuries or illnesses, these are the moments we truly realize just how much work our body does that we take for granted.
Pain Relief for Tennis Elbow
So, should you happen to have tennis elbow, how do you get tennis elbow pain relief? Pain relief from tennis elbow really depends on how bad it’s gotten. Tennis elbow usually heals on its own as long as you manage to give your elbow a break. There are, however, things you can do to help speed the healing up a bit.
- Cool it down. Icing the affected joint can help bring down the swelling and ease the pain. Ice the joint for up to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours. This can help eliminate pain in 2 to 3 days.
- Keeping the injured joint from moving around a lot can help prevent strain, so consider an elbow strap to help this aspect of your healing.
- Medication is an option – NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can help bring down the pain and swelling. It’s recommended that you check with your doctor first before taking them, as they can have side effects like causing ulcers or bleeding. They may even delay healing in some cases if they’re not right for you.
- Exercising, with your doctor’s go-ahead, can help increase flexibility in the affected joint. Performing exercises that increase your range of motion and reduce stiffness three to five times daily can be quite helpful.
- On top of exercises, physical therapy may be helpful or even necessary in some cases. While this isn’t required for everyone, there are some cases that might require additional focus and attention from a trained therapist.
- Some fairly severe cases might need injections of painkillers or steroids in the area, to help ease the swelling and reduce pain. Again, check with your doctor if this is right for you – odds are it ultimately won’t be as helpful as one hopes, as studies have shown that these don’t help that much long-term.
- In quite extreme cases that don’t see recovery in two to four months, surgery might be needed. These particularly severe cases will see the damaged section of tendon removed. While about half the overall cases of tennis elbow might be bad enough to need this treatment, surgery works for up to 90% of those cases.
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