What is Tennis Elbow and How is it Treated?

Tennis elbow doesn’t get around the way it used to in America. The number of Americans who play tennis has been on a downward spiral since the glamour days of John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. Of course, the real problem is that you don’t actually have to player tennis to come down with tennis elbow. What we know as tennis elbow is actually an inflammation of muscles and tendons within the elbow that is caused by any activity that results in the repetition of a forceful contraction of the muscles on the outer part of the forearm. What actually happens to cause tennis elbow pain is that tiny little tears are caused in the muscle when the stress becomes too great. In addition to athletes, any occupation that requires this kind of forceful repetition of the forearm is at higher risk of developing tennis elbow. For instance, mechanics, roofers and carpenters often complain of tennis elbow, but of course it would not be quite as glamorous to refer to it as mechanic elbow, would it? Other sports that could lead to the condition would include bowling, golfing and even skiing. The poorer your health, the greater your likelihood of developing tennis elbow no matter what your occupation. The discomfort associated with tennis elbow is a result of a tear within the tendon and the rest of the material that covers your bone. Those with tennis elbow generally will complain about either pain or simple tenderness, with the intensity of the pain increasing any time the person rotates his forearm. The problem can become chronic to the point of a significant decrease in the ability to make a strong grip.

If you begin to notice this kind of tenderness or pain related to what sounds like tennis elbow, applying either heat or an ice pack has proven to be effective. If the pain becomes substantial and the disorder reaches an acute stage of development, heat is usually preferable because it serves to get the blood circulating and facilitate the healing process better than a cold treatment. Should your tennis elbow reach the state where a doctor must be called in for treatment, you can expect a round of physical therapy and possibly an ultrasound application to the area of inflammation. The physical therapy is designed to retain your flexibility, as well as reduce that tightness within the tendon that serves to act as a sort of resistance within your muscular system. If the problem is bad enough, your doctor will likely prescribe some type of steroid treatment as well.

As an alternative treatment to tennis elbow-and since you probably belong to a country club, anyway-you may be offered the opportunity for massage treatment. This has proven to especially effective when the pain is not particularly severe. The reason massage therapy works so sell with tennis elbow is because it helps to increase the circulation of the blood as well as reduce the swollen area causing the pain. In addition to massage, acupuncture has been beneficial, although quite recently there was a report stating that acupuncture may be closer to working through the placebo effect than actually having any real value that comes from the inserting of tiny needles into your flesh.