What Is Tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow, also called Lateral Epicondylitis, is a severe pain in the elbow caused by overuse. The pain usually occurs on the outer side of the elbow and is caused due to inflammation of tendons of the forearm. Tendons connect muscles to the bones, and when a person does the same activity repetitively, the tendons and muscles around the elbow region get damaged causing pain.
Despite it being called tennis elbow, anyone can suffer from this condition. A person who does similar movements of the wrist and forearm repeatedly may tear the tendons, thus putting a strain on the forearm. This causes pain and makes it difficult to hold and lift things.
Tennis elbow is a simple injury and can be healed in a few days. But without proper treatment, it can become chronic.
What Are The Symptoms Of Tennis elbow?
The main symptom of this condition is a pain in the elbow. Pain may range from mild discomfort to severe pain even when the arm is still. Tennis elbow symptoms include:
- You feel pain on the outer side of the upper forearm, below and around the elbow.
- Your arm pains when you try to lift or bend your arm.
- You find it difficult to hold objects, like a pen or a cup.
- When you twist your arm to open door knobs or a bottle cap, you experience pain.
- When you try to extend your arm fully, you find it painful.
- You feel stiffness and pain in the elbow in the morning, when you wake up.
- Sometimes, the outside part of the elbow is very painful to touch.
In most cases, tennis elbow takes six months to around two years to heal. On an average, around 90% cases recover within a year.
What Are The Causes Of Tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow generally occurs across all age groups, but more commonly found in the age group of 30-50 years.
Tennis elbow is a classic pain caused by the inflammation of the tendons which connect the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle to the outer bony prominence (lateral epicondyle) of the elbow. Repeated motions of the wrist and the forearm causes tiny tears in the tendons cause them to inflame. Since tennis is a game involving strokes, poor playing techniques may result in stress on the forearm muscles, causing the condition.
Tennis elbow also occurs in other racquet sports like squash or badminton.
It also occurs in occupations which involve repeated movements of arms or wrist, like:
- Tree cutting.
- Playing certain musical instruments like violin.
- Javelin and discuss sports, which involve throwing.
- Using shears in gardening.
- Plumbing works.
- Brick laying works.
- Cooks and butchers.
- Assembly line works.
- Works involving fine movements of the wrist, like typing or using scissors.
When pain occurs on the inner side of the elbow, the condition is termed as Golfer’s elbow.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Tennis elbow?
- First and foremost, do stop all such activities which have caused tennis elbow. If your profession or job involves constant use of an arm in a repetitive manner, you will have to stop doing those activities.
- Alternatively, you can talk to your supervisor/ boss and find out different ways to do the work. If you continue using your arm to do repeated motions, the tendons will not heal, causing pain to aggravate and may also lead chronic tennis elbow.
- If working on the computer or doing a desk job, adjust chair height, mouse, and keyboard position to give comfort and reduce pain.
- Applying ice packs and cold compression around the elbow will relieve stiffened muscles; reduce soreness and give you comfort.
- Exercise and physiotherapy will also help in reducing pain and strengthening the muscles.
- After recovery, make sure you are applying correct technique while playing racquet sports to avoid further injury.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Tennis elbow?
- Do not wait for the elbow to become so worse that you cannot lift things before you decide to stop doing the repetitive movements of the arm.
- Do not sit in a bad posture on the chair.
- Do not wear a sling, elbow brace or band. Wearing these will most probably make your tennis elbow worse.
What Are The Best Foods For Tennis elbow?
Following the best diet when you are suffering from tennis elbow will give relief from pain and also help in the healing process. Include the following foods in your diet:
- Omega 3 fatty acids work wonders in reducing inflammation and also a pain in the elbow. Good sources of omega 3 fatty acids are oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna. Other sources include walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, canola oil, olive oil, tofu, etc.
- Certain food items such as celery, ginger, and barley are high in anti inflammatory qualities. Drinking ginger tea will help to soothe the constant pain in the arm. Similarly consuming celery juice or celery extracts is beneficial when one has tennis elbow.
- Another wonder-food people with tennis elbow should eat is pineapple. Eating pineapple slices or having fresh juice is considered beneficial because pineapple is rich in vitamin C which helps in building collagen. It also contains a compound called bromelain which has anti inflammatory properties.
- Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, cabbage and fruits like blueberries and avocados should be incorporated in the diet. Whole grains, nuts, and seeds must be eaten to give the body its daily dose of carbohydrates and other requirements.
- Milk, dairy products, and low-fat chicken supply the body with protein, calcium and minerals to repair the damaged tendons.
What Are The Worst Foods For Tennis elbow?
Eating bad food will only give bad health. Some of the foods you should avoid if you have tennis elbow are:
- Staying away from processed food is very important. Firstly, processed food has preservatives and dyes which are toxins to the body. To add to it, usually, these toxins are stored in muscular tissue which is injured. This makes the repair mechanism all the more difficult. Secondly, processed food is difficult to digest. The body spends too much time in digesting this food, and in turn, does not get all the nutrients it needs. This hampers the body in the healing process.
- Fried food, high-fat cheeses, and fatty meat should be avoided.
- Avoid salt if you have tennis elbow. Salt tends to cause swelling in the body.
What Are The Medicines For Tennis elbow?
What Are The Tips To Manage Tennis elbow?
One has to continue to remain fit even when suffering from tennis elbow. Gentle exercise like walking, running or aerobics can be done without harm. Do some simple exercises to rehabilitate the affected arm. Wrist exercises like flexes, rotations, and extensions will help in the healing of the elbow. Some yoga postures like pawanmuktasana, Trikonasana, Sarvangasana and pranayama like Nadi shodhana are helpful in preventing and healing the tennis elbow.