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What is a tennis elbow/golfer’s elbow?
Epicondylitis is a condition of pain in the elbow, which is typically caused by overloading the tendons emanating from the outer and inner side of the elbow. The condition appears in two different variants:
- Tennis elbow, which is on the outside of the elbow
- Golfer’s elbow, which is on the inside of the elbow
Despite the names, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are more likely to appear in non-athletes. The condition is frequent in occupations whose main work tasks rely on single-sided and repetitive movements using the wrist (e.g. carpentry). However, in the context of sports, as the names suggest, practitioners that do suffer from the condition tend to be either tennis, badminton or golf players.
A common cause of tennis elbow/golfer’s elbow is when too much pressure or a combination of heavy pressure and repeated movements are put on the wrist extensors (the part of the wrist that allows it to bend backward). Vibrations from using a tennis racket, a hammer or other tools are a frequent cause. Small repetitive exertions of pressure, such as using a computer mouse or typing on a keyboard for several hours, are also a frequent cause.
It is common for the pain to appear a few days after performing the activity that triggered the condition. The pain will grow worse if activities that involve pressure on the wrist are continued. The pain can be experienced as a buzzing sensation or pain on the outer side of the elbow, in the case tennis elbow, and on the inner side, in the case of golfer’s elbow. The pain will often radiate down into the lower part of the arm towards the wrist.
What can you do to treat your tennis elbow/golfer’s elbow?
Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are caused by overloading the body. The first step in treating an injury caused by overload is to relief the damaged tissue. This is done by limiting the load put on the wrist when you bend it upwards, especially in cases that involve resistance/weight when you move your wrist. This can be difficult because of how we normally use our wrists i.e. by bending our wrists upwards when we carry objects. Instead, try to lift/carry the object with your elbow facing outwards and the palm of your hand facing straight ahead or up. This feels unnatural but it will help you relief the outer side of your elbow.
You need to perform mobility, strength and stability exercises to increase your blood circulation and then follow up with stretching exercises. Using bandage for epicondylitis for short-term use may result in significant relief. In light cases, elbow training can be initiated immediately.
You should go through a 3-month training program. Continued exercising will prevent relapses. If you experience too much pain to exercise, some injections of adrenal cortex hormone can be administered. In the rare case that the condition does not respond to traditional treatment, the condition can be treated with surgery instead.