Tennis elbow is an overuse injury affecting the long extensors of the forearm and the hand. It is also known as Lateral Epicondylitis. As the name suggests, it is common for people involved in racquet sports. But it is also prevalent among people who overuse the extensor muscles of the forearm and wrist, like painters, carpenters, musicians, dentists, plumbers, and computer users. The overused tendons get inflamed and may get frayed due to degeneration. Extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) is the commonly involved tendon.
Pain is felt on the outer aspect of the elbow, radiating down to the forearm. Sometimes night pain also happens. Weakness in grip strength is also common.
Exercises play a significant role in the management of the Tennis Elbow.
- Wrist extension with weights– Starting position is – your elbow and forearm resting on a table and the hand hanging with the palm facing down. Hold a half kg weight in hand. Now gently bend your wrist backward(fist pointing to the ceiling) from a neutral wrist position. Hold the end position for five seconds and repeat ten times.
- Finger extension-Place a rubber band around all five fingertips and spread the fingers. Do 10-15 reps in two sets. For more excellent resistance, use a rubber band of greater thickness. This exercise is to strengthen the long extensors of the forearm and hand.
- Ball Squeeze– Place a tennis ball in your hand and squeeze it tightly. Do 10-15 repetitions, 2-3 times a day.
- Wrist supination and pronation strengthening-With the elbow bent at 90 degrees alongside your body and palms facing upwards, twist the forearm so that palms face down to the floor, and go back to the starting position. Repeat ten times.
- Stretching the long extensors- With your arm by your side, elbow straight, and palm facing backward, bend your wrist and curl your fingers. You will feel a stretch along your forearm. Hold for ten seconds and repeat three times.
Other than the exercises to strengthen the involved tendons, Ice massage helps to decrease inflammation. Rest from aggravating activities and activity modification help in healing. Bracing helps in avoiding undue stress and strain on the affected tendons. Physiotherapeutic ultrasound and Laser are also effective in promoting healing and repair. Steroid injections are also helpful. Some cases which do not respond to conservative treatment for more than six months may require surgery.
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