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What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is very common. Caused when the outer part of the elbow becomes painful. Doctors see many people with the condition and they usually aren't tennis players! Tennis players account for less than 5 percent of all reported cases.

The damage that tennis elbow incurs consists of tiny tears in a part of the tendon and in muscle coverings. After the initial injury heals, these areas often tear again, which leads to hemorrhaging and the formation of rough, granulated tissue and calcium deposits within the surrounding tissues. Collagen, a protein, leaks out from around the injured areas, causing inflammation. The resulting pressure can cut off the blood flow and pinch the radial nerve, one of the major nerves controlling muscles in the arm and hand.

Simple activities such as washing your windows, gardening, swimming, can cause this problem without warning.

It comes on gradually starting as an irritating ache around the elbow. Certain movements make it worse and there may come a time when even picking up a kettle or opening a door is difficult.

Tennis elbow usually affects the arm of your dominant hand (right arm if you are right-handed).
Pain radiates from the outside of your elbow into your forearm and wrist
Pain when you extend your wrist
Pain when you touch or bump the outside of your elbow
A weak grip
A painful grip during certain activities, such as shaking hands or turning a doorknob.
The pain often gets worse over weeks or months. Sometimes you may feel pain even when your arm is still.

The priority is to rest the arm completely.
Paracetamol will relieve the pain and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen will help.
Apply an Ice pack to reduce inflammation.
If possible use an arm brace to ensure complete rest of the arm.

If rest and medications fail to cure tennis elbow, surgery may be considered although this form of treatment is rare (fewer than 3 percent of patients).