You Don’t Have to Play Tennis to Get Tennis Elbow
Despite the name, “Tennis Elbow” (sometimes called “Golfer’s Elbow”) is not just the product of being a sports injury.
Tennis elbow is actually called lateral epicondylitis, which can be caused by the overuse of your elbow in practically any situation that involves repetitive motion. The tendons that join the join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow can become through many different activities.
When a specific muscle in your forearm (the extensor carpi radialis brevis, or ECRB) is overused, it becomes weak, and microscopic tears form in the tendon attached to the later epicondyle—a small projection in the humerus.
While golfers and tennis players have brought the most attention to the injury, lateral epicondylitis has been showing up in a lot of new places over the past decade due in large part to the rise of technology.
Let’s look at some of the ways technology has played a role in creating new cases of lateral epicondylitis.
New Ways to Define Tennis Elbow
Since any activity that requires the overuse of the elbow can cause what we call tennis elbow, carpenters, plumbers, and painters are all likely candidates for developing the condition. But it doesn’t stop there.
Here are some less-mentioned activities from the technology boom that have been known to bring about the condition:
- Mouse Elbow – Think about the position of your arm as you hold your mouse while you are at your desk. You might not be holding a tennis racket or a golf club, but your arm is certainly in a similar position. As you point and click your mouse day-in and day-out, that repetitive motion can ultimately result in pain in the outer portion of your elbow.
- Gamer’s Elbow – Consider the way that gamers hold their controllers—up in the air, elbows bent for hours on end. Elbow injuries are actually quite common for people who spend a lot playing games. It is even more common when using physical controllers like those for Xbox Kinect of the Nintendo Wii.
- Selfie Elbow – Some people are just addicted to looking at their phone aren’t they? Well, as it turns out, the more you hold your phone in front of your face, the more strain you are putting on your elbow. This can, of course, be avoided by spending less time on your phone and using something to prop them up when you can.
Symptoms to Look Out For
The most common symptoms for tennis (or mouse, gamer’s, selfie, etc.) elbow is pain or burning on the outer part of your elbow and weak grip strength.
If you notice these symptoms after an extended period of overusing your elbow, it is best to start actively working on the problem before the problem gets any worse.
Doing something about the pain early on is best way to avoid an expensive doctor’s visit for nonsurgical treatments or worse, surgery.
Try This Before Seeing a Doctor
Before running to the doctor’s office at the first sign of pain try these simple methods of easing the pain:
- Ice – At the first signs of pain, put some ice on your elbow 2 or 3 times a day for 15 to 20 minutes. That should reduce the inflammation.
- Stretch – Doing some simple stretches can also reduce the pain in your elbow. One effective method involves holding your arm out with your palm up and pushing it back towards your body until you feel it in your inner forearm. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 3 to 5 times.
- Rest – This one might seem obvious, but if your elbow hurts, stop doing the thing that’s hurting it. Give whatever you’re doing a rest for a few days and give your elbow a chance to heal. If you don’t, the problem will only get worse.
If the problem doesn’t get better after trying these things or gets worse, it is definitely time to consult a doctor. Most people are able to treat tennis elbow through anti-inflammatory medicine, physical therapy, or a brace. There is also shockwave therapy and steroid injections that can be used to treat the pain.
If the problem is still persistent after 6 months, it may be time to start thinking about surgical options.
If you suffer from a medical condition of the shoulders, hips, knees, wrists, ankles, or elbows, the team at Onward Orthopedics is ready to help. The experts at these Texas-based outpatient clinics pride themselves in ensuring the best possible outcomes for their patients. Learn more about what they do by calling (888) 204-9092 today!