The repetitive movements of competing in tennis are so frequently linked to problems with the tendons that connect your forearm muscles to the outside of your elbow joint that the injury is called “tennis elbow.” However, it’s not just tennis that causes this injury.
Our team of expert orthopedic surgeons here at Arizona Center for Hand to Shoulder Surgery, with three locations in Mesa and Phoenix, Arizona, offers advanced diagnostics and customized treatment for tennis elbow. If you have elbow pain, don’t delay treatment. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to have severe pain or suffer from a reduced range of motion.
What is tennis elbow?
Clinically referred to as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is a condition that occurs when repetitive movements irritate the tendons that connect your forearm muscles to your elbow. These tendons allow you to extend your hands and fingers.
When you put a lot of stress on the tendons in your arm, they stretch beyond their limits. When you put a continuous strain on those tendons, they lose strength and elasticity, and eventually, small tears form. These tears cause inflammation, stiffness, and pain.
Over time, the inflammation and tears can cause scar tissue to develop, which restricts blood flow and can inhibit the healing process, leading to chronic pain.
Little known causes of tennis elbow
Advances in medical technology have allowed us to increase our understanding of repetitive use injuries like tennis elbow. For example, we now know that you don’t have to be an athlete to develop this painful condition. Any repetitive movement that stresses the muscles and tendons in your forearm might lead to tennis elbow.
Spending hours every day typing on a computer is one of the most common causes of tennis elbow. Most people have to hold their hands in a slightly lifted position while they type, which stresses your wrists and forearms. If you spend eight hours a day or more at a computer work station, you have a high risk of developing tennis elbow.
Whether you’re an athlete or if you have a career or hobby that puts stress on your forearms, rest is critical. You need to allow your body sufficient time to recover and heal any micro-injuries. Otherwise, you could end up with chronic pain from tennis elbow. You might not think about resting your hands and arms after a day at work. Still, you should take time to relax and stretch to keep your muscles and tendons healthy and supple.
When you have a shoulder injury, even a mild one, your body naturally transfers energy to nearby joints like your elbows to protect your shoulder. However, your elbows aren’t built to perform the same tasks as your shoulder or bear the same weight. This can add even more stress to the muscles and tendons that connect in your elbow and increase your chances of developing tennis elbow or another painful elbow injury.
What to do if you have elbow pain
If you have pain, stiffness, or swelling in your elbow, forearm, or wrist, take a couple of days to rest your elbow and use at home remedies like ice and over-the-counter pain medicine. If your pain persists, call our team of expert orthopedic surgeons at Arizona Center for Hand to Shoulder Surgery or schedule a consultation online. Our surgeons can diagnose the condition causing your pain and provide a personalized treatment plan to heal your elbow and restore your strength and mobility.