Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is a painful overuse injury that affects the lateral (outer) elbow and develops gradually over time. The primary tissues involved in tennis elbow are the forearm extensor muscle group and the common extensor tendon. The forearm extensor muscles travel from the back of the wrist and join at the common extensor tendon which is located at the outside of the elbow.
Repetitive contraction of the forearm muscles during hand and forearm activities can shorten the extensor muscles, causing strain and micro-tears in the common extensor tendon. The strain and micro-tearing of the tendon eventually develops into pain and swelling at the site of attachment on the outer elbow.
Individuals that suffer from tennis elbow will often experience tenderness and pain at the outer elbow, which can radiate from the outside of the elbow down the forearm. Some may also develop pain and weakness when opening jars, using a screwdriver, playing racket sports, or shaking hands.
Despite its name “tennis elbow” often affects people who do not play tennis. Those most at risk are those whose jobs or activities involve repetitive use of the hands and forearms such as: carpenters, weightlifters, crossfitters, office and construction workers.
Like all forms of tendinitis and tendinopathies, the best way to manage tennis elbow is to avoid it. Below are 3 tips to help prevent tennis elbow.
Perform a pre-activity or pre-work warm up
Before performing work or sports related activities take a few minutes to warm the muscles of hands, forearm, upper arms and shoulders. This can be as simple as gently massaging these areas.
Develop a daily stretching routine that targets the muscles of the hands, forearms, upper arms and shoulders.
Take days off from activities that can aggravate the condition. If you perform repetitive tasks that involve gripping or typing during the week try and avoid these movements and tasks on your days off.
If the pain from your tennis elbow continues to persist gives us a call to find out how we might be able to help you.
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Registered Acupuncturist & Chinese Medicine Herbalist