Feel an ache on the outside part of your forearm or elbow? Do you find it difficult to make twisting motions with your arm? Does it hurt when you try to grip and lift things?
Chances are you have Tennis Elbow.
Tennis Elbow, also known as Lateral Epicondylitis, is a strain in the muscles or tendons on the lateral (outer) side of the elbow. However, contrary to popular belief, Tennis Elbow doesn’t just happen to tennis players. In fact, anyone – whether tennis player or not – can suffer from it.
While most people associate Tennis Elbow with tennis players, many who suffer from this injury don’t actually get it from playing tennis. In fact, many get it from activities that have nothing to do with tennis at all! That’s because Tennis Elbow is usually the result of overuse, where the affected muscles and tendons are repeatedly stressed to the point of injury. In some cases, it can even come from a direct hit or blow on the elbow. Therefore, any activity that involves repetitive hand and wrist movements or those that repeatedly stress the elbow and forearm can be a potential cause of Tennis Elbow.
These activities don’t have to be sports-related either, as plenty of “everyday”, non-sporting activities have been known to cause it. Some of these include:
– gardening / housework
– carrying heavy groceries
– manual work – ex. plumbing
– typing / heavy use of the computer
– heavy use of scissors
– playing instruments such as the violin or guitar
Fortunately, most cases of Tennis Elbow can be treated using conservative methods to get good results. These usually involve a physical therapy plan that allows the patient to gradually regain strength and function in the affected area. Furthermore, it has been shown that an active approach to recovery using eccentric exercises for the forearms provides effective relief for Tennis Elbow.
Like any other injury, however, prevention is still better than a cure. To prevent Tennis Elbow, take regular breaks and make time to rest your forearms and elbows. Ensuring proper form and technique will also help eliminate unnecessary stress on these parts. The eccentric exercises discussed briefly above has also been shown to help prevent symptoms from occurring in the first place.