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How Does Tennis Elbow Feel Like?

Before knowing how does tennis elbow feel like, one must know what is a tennis elbow?

It is pain and tenderness on the lateral epicondyle region of the humerus. Pain is usually felt in the area of extensor muscle origin.

As the name suggests it is seen in tennis players sometimes, but this is not always true. It can happen in any individual no matter whether one is a tennis player or not. There is inflammation at the origin of extensor muscles. These are the muscles, which help in extending of the hand outright.[1]

Apart from playing tennis anything which causes stretching of extensors muscles can cause tennis elbow. Squeezing of clothes, lifting heavy objects can cause tennis elbow.

The patient usually presents with tenderness over the lateral epicondyle. There is inflammation at the origin of extensors muscles. Pain is also present. At times the pain is so severe that the patient didn’t even allow a doctor to touch that area. Signs of inflammation are seen which includes rubor, dolour, calor, and loss of function.[2]

On examination that is on inspection area appears red and swollen. On palpation, temperature of the area appears to be raised. But it is very difficult to palpate when there is extreme pain. The difficulty occurs in the movement of extension. So, accordingly hand movements should be performed.

Clinically, diagnosis can be made. The patient is asked to avoid strain to extensors muscles. One should not stretch one’s hands too much as this will cause stretching of extensors. X-ray findings are usually normal. There is no as such abnormality detected.

How Does Tennis Elbow Feel Like?

How Does Tennis Elbow Feel Like?

As a matter of fact, elbow movements are normal. There is pain which is the reason for the patient to avoid movements, otherwise there is no bone deformity present. Aggravation of pain on palmar flexion of the wrist and hence it is advised to prevent flexion. There is no specific finding. The only complain of the patient is pain and tenderness. At times, skin appears red and swollen and hence cold compression provides temporary relief. But this is not the main line of treatment.

Treatment should be done with analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs. After the course of treatment if still, the patient is not responding then hydrocortisone injections should be given. So, if one is having pain on lateral condyle tennis elbow can be a differential and maximum times, it is seen in tennis player when the forcefully flex the wrist while playing the tennis, so proper care should be taken while playing the tennis. RICE therapy which includes rest, ice, compression and elevation should be given besides analgesics and physical activity like squeezing of clothes and lifting heavy objects should be strictly avoided so that there is early recovery, so timely management is needed, so as to prevent mobility problems. As such elbow movements are normal. But when pain is severe, the patient is reluctant to perform any movements. So, the pain is not due to a deformity in the bone, it is due to inflammation of muscles.

It should be kept in mind that it is a clinical diagnosis. X rays are found never helpful as there is no bone deformity. The main deformity is present in muscles that are extensor muscles. Extension movements are difficult to perform along with flexion of the wrist, so a patient should be counseled regarding movements of the hand.

So movement restriction, rest, ice therapy, compression, elevation and analgesics like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroid should be considered the main line of treatment for an early recovery of the patient. Excessive strain should be avoided else, at times there are chances for a bone deformity, which may occur if not treated early. Sitting by the given elbow support should be avoided even if there is no pain as this causes extension of extensor muscles. A little safety on that part of the patient can lead to early recovery.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 14, 2020

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