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Do you have pain in your elbow that feels like a radiating heat from the outside? You may have Tennis Elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis.  Here are some ways to prevent and ease the pain so you can get more enjoyment from life. Tennis elbow or Lateral epicondylitis is a painful condition at the lateral epicondyle of the humerus. The acute pain that a person might feel occurs as one fully extends the arm. What this can cause is inflammation, soreness, or pain on the outside (lateral) side of the upper arm near the elbow usually affecting the lateral collateral ligament, or the most outside ligament of your elbow.

There may be a partial tear of the tendon fibers, which connect muscle to bone. The tear may be at or near where these fibers begin, on the outside of the elbow.  Below we will discuss the causes and ways to ease your pain.

 

Causes and Risk Factors

Muscles in your forearm attach to the bone on the outside of your elbow through tendons, and when you use these muscles over and over again, small tears may develop in the tendon. Over time, this can lead to irritation and pain where the tendon is attached to the bone.

This injury is common in people who play a lot of tennis or other racquet sports, hence the name "tennis elbow."  Backhand is the most common stroke to cause symptoms.

However, any activity that involves repetitive twisting of the wrist (like using a screwdriver) can also lead to this condition. Therefore, painters, plumbers, construction workers, cooks, and butchers are all more likely to develop tennis elbow.  Even repetitive keyboard and mouse use can cause this injury.

Symptoms

Elbow pain that gradually worsens.

• Pain radiating from the outside of the elbow (radius) to the forearm and back of the hand when grasping or twisting. • Weak grip. • Point tenderness over the lateral epicondyle (a prominent part of the bone on the outside of the elbow). • Gripping and movements of the wrist hurt, especially wrist extension and lifting movements with the palm facing down. • Activities that use the muscles that extend the wrist are characteristically painful.

 

Tests

• The diagnosis is made based on signs and symptoms, because x-rays usually appear normal. Often there will be pain or tenderness when the tendon is gently pressed near where it attaches to the upper arm bone (humerus), over the outside of the elbow. • There is also pain near the elbow when the wrist is extended (bent backwards, like revving a motorcycle engine) against resistance. • Pain also occurs when lifting objects with the palm facing the floor.

 

Treatment

The first step is to rest your arm and avoid the activity that causes your symptoms for at least 2 - 3 weeks. You may also want to: Set an appointment with a physical therapist or corrective massage therapist when symptoms appear. The sooner you are able to catch the muscle tension and have a professional work it out the easier it is to work through.

Put ice on the outside of your elbow 2 - 3 times a day. If your tennis elbow is due to sports activity, you may want to: •Ask about any changes you can make in your technique and form. •Check any sports equipment you're using to see if any changes may help. •Think about how often you have been playing and whether you should cut back.

If your symptoms are related to working on the computer, ask your boss about making ergonomic changes to your desk.

An elbow brace, also called an elbow clasp, can be worn for the treatment of tennis elbow. The theory behind using an elbow clasp is that the brace will redirect the pull of muscles that are irritated in tennis elbow. Instead of the pressure being exerted directly on the lateral collateral ligament over the outside of the elbow, the elbow clasp transmits the pressure directly under the brace. In order for the brace to work effectively, the brace must be worn about four centimeters down the forearm, not where you have pain in the elbow! Prevention

• Apply an ice pack to the outside of the elbow • Decrease the amount of playing time if already injured or feel pain in outside part of elbow. • Stay in overall good physical shape. • Since most extremity pain is caused by muscle weaknesses and or imbalances higher up the kinetic chain try to strengthen the muscles of the forearm (Pronator quadratus, Pronator teres and Supinator muscle), the upper arm (biceps brachii, triceps brachii, Deltoid muscle), the shoulder and upper back (trapezius and rhomboid muscles). • Increased muscular strength and stamina will increase the stability of joints such as the elbow. • Like other sports, use equipment appropriate towards your ability, body size and muscular strength. • Rest the elbow when bending and straightening are painful.

 

Do not try any self-treatment before seeing a doctor for a diagnosis and if possible try to see a physical therapist for any advice or specific exercises that could help with Lateral Epicondylitis. You want to make sure you actually have lateral epicondylitis before you start trying new things to or else you may make a different problem worse.

( Sources: www.WebMD.com, http://orthopedics.about.com)

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