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What is a tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a type of muscle strain injury commonly stemming from overuse.  As the name suggests, the condition is caused by the repeated extension of the elbow under load, just as one would perform a backhand stroke in tennis. During this motion, the many muscles in the forearm that you use to straighten and raise your hand contract, leading to overuse and hence muscle strain. This repetitive movement pattern places stress on the tissue that, over time, may result in a series of microscopic tears in the tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the bony lump (lateral epicondyle) just outside of your elbow. Find out more about tennis elbow below.  

Statistics

According to NHS UK, tennis elbow is a relatively common condition that about 1-3% of the population (about 4 to 7 cases per 1000) suffer from every year. Being the cause of two-thirds of elbow pain cases, tennis elbow is the leading cause of elbow pain today.  It affects both women and men equally, and those affected are mostly between the ages of 35-54

Causes

People who have jobs that commonly require the use of physical strength are more at risk of developing tennis elbow. These include plumbers, servicemen or even housewives.  According to a population study by Shiri R and associates, the prevalence of the disorder ranges from 2.8% in the general population with increases up to 7.4% in the engineering industry. You can develop a tennis elbow by doing any activities that involve repeatedly twisting your wrist or bending your elbow 

Examples include (but are not limited to):

playing racquet sports (tennis, badminton or squash) or sports that involve throwing (javelin or discuss)

using hand tools repeatedly (gardening tools, screwdrivers or scissors)

activities that involve precise and repetitive hand and wrist movements (typing or sewing)

– activities that involve repeatedly bending the elbow (playing the violin)

Symptoms

The pain associated with tennis elbow may radiate from the outside of your elbow into your forearm and wrist. This pain could potentially affect your ability to carry out everyday tasks such as:

  • Bending your arm
  • Turning a doorknob.
  • Writing 

Treatment

  1. Rest. reducing the intensity of usual activities can help to lessen the pain experienced by the individual. However, light use of the arm is recommended. This can be through learning to recruit other muscles such as your shoulders or arms to bear the load, or simply restricting movement of the arm to the middle range of motion.
  1. Managing pain 
  • over the counter painkillers such as ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation. However, always consult your doctor before consuming any medication
  • Ice can also help reduce inflammation and swelling and hence pain. 

Bear in mind these are likely to be temporary remedies to the pain. For long term treatment and health, you should consider:

  1. Seeing a professional
  • Here at Healing Hands Chiropractic Singapore, our mission is to help people lead happier & healthier lives by eliminating pain through effective & holistic treatment by a team who cares. Our skilled chiropractors provide holistic treatment by —

references

  1. Prevalence and determinants of lateral and medial epicondylitis: a population study. Shiri R, Viikari-Juntura E, Varonen H, Heliövaara , J Epidemiol. 2006 Dec 1; 164(11):1065-74.
  2.  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tennis-elbow/

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