Despite its name, tennis elbow is not necessarily caused by playing tennis. Overuse or repeated pressure on the tendons near the elbow joint can overload these tissues, particularly where the tendon anchors to the bone. If overload occurs, it can cause pain around the elbow, particularly when using the wrist and hand. These injuries can occur as a result of a variety of sports and occupations, including racquet sports, swimming and canoeing to name a few.
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondyle, is specifically the pain associated with the bump on the outer side of the elbow. The muscles on the back of your forearm, responsible for curling your wrist backwards, are anchored to this bony point. This area is susceptible to tennis elbow because it has a poor blood supply. Tennis elbow differs to golfers elbow (medial epicondyle). Golfers elbow is associated with pain associated with the bump on the inner side of the elbow. Muscles on the front of your forearm, responsible for curling your wrist up, are anchored to this bony point.
The onset of tennis elbow tends to be gradual. Pain may radiate to the forearm and wrist. The pain is often triggered or exacerbated by opening the fingers or repeatedly rotating the forearm or extending the wrist. Without treatment, the symptoms may take 6-24 months to resolve.
Physiotherapy may help to relieve pain and encourage recovery associated with tennis elbow. Physiotherapy treatment may include strengthening and conditioning exercises for your forearm. Applying ice and massaging and stretching the area can assist in relieving pain and muscle tension. It is important to stop using the elbow and the arm in a way that make tennis elbow worse, so you need to stop any activity causing the pain. A special elbow brace may also be useful to help protect the elbow and tendon.
Natural therapies include preparations that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Devil’s Claw has traditionally been used for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, have anti-inflammatory properties. It can be found in Nature’s Own Deep Sea Calamari, Lifestream V-Omega + Vitamin D and Nature’s Way Minis Fish Oil Capsules. Magnesium is involved in healthy muscle contraction and bone strength and may assist in the relief of muscle cramps and spasms associated with tennis elbow. Magnesium supplements available include Bioglan Active Magnesium, Wagner Magnesium Forte and Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil.
Prevention is always better than cure. So make sure to stretch and warm-up before you start playing sport and pay attention to your technique. Also set up your work space and activities to minimise repetitive activities and pressure. Take regular breaks.