Friday, April 22, 2011

Tennis Elbow Causes and Treatments

What actually causes tennis elbow is not exactly known but certain studies show that this condition can be due to microscopic tears in the tissues located at the elbow site. Although it is usually associated with inflammation, researches have proven that there is sometimes no inflammatory process that occurs in this condition.

Other studies have also found that tennis elbow is more likely the result of repetitive stress and overexertion due to certain activities such as wringing clothes and other twisting movements. People who are found to be more prone to having this condition are often those with manual laborer jobs such as carpenters and plasterers, and also athletes who are mostly involve in racquet sports. It is commonly seen in people ranging from 35 to 55 years of age. This condition is sometimes considered a degenerative disease by some researchers.

Tennis elbow is diagnosed through physical assessment conducted by a physician. Diagnostic tools are not commonly required in determining the presence of this condition since they often do not detect abnormalities. However, if symptoms persist and continue to worsen the physician may require the use of MRI, x-ray or other imaging tools to identify the underlying cause of the condition and the reason for its persistence.

The treatment and management recommended for tennis elbow focuses on alleviating pain and discomfort caused by the tension on the muscle tissues and tendons at the affected area. Modifying activities that contribute to the occurrence of the condition is very important. Resting from activities such as lifting, gripping and twisting movements will help in restoring the damaged tissues. Using an ice pack can promote circulation therefore reducing the swelling of the affected area. Use of analgesics is also recommended. These medications include ibuprofen, topic analgesics, paracetamol and sometimes morphine.

In some cases, steroid injection may be indicated. This will help in reducing severe pain and discomforts. However, steroid injections can have some disturbing side effects including pain on the site of injection, atrophy, depigmentation, and damage to the tendon around the elbow. Physiotherapy, splints and braces, autologous blood injection, shockwave therapy and surgery are among the other more complicated treatments used for managing tennis elbow.

Treatment for tennis elbow can be best achieved by the use of the above mentioned treatment strategies, in combination with the avoidance of activities that have caused the previous injury. During the onset of the first signs and symptoms, rest and immobilize the affected area is recommended in order to avoid further injury and damage to the area. The pain associated with this condition usually lasts for six to 12 weeks. It is more likely to occur again once this condition is already experienced. Tennis elbow can be best prevented by increasing the strength and flexibility of the muscles especially those which are located at the forearm to the elbow. Consultation with a physiotherapist can provide additional information with regards to activities and exercises that can promote muscle strength and flexibility.

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