As the weather continues to warm, many Americans are returning to their favorite outdoor activities and starting home projects. This means, among other things, that tennis elbow is on the rise each year.
It begins with localized, persistent pain on the outside of the elbow (or inside if the closely related elbow). golf elbow), which gradually weakens. It can happen to people who have never picked up a racket or clubs.between 50 percent of tennis Athletes get it every year, and as experts know, lateral epicondylitis is one of its symptoms. very common Repetitive stress injuries of the upper body.
Causes vary, but may include prolonged hammering, painting, softball, weightlifting, and even gardening. Alternatively, it could be a combination of triggers.
Studies show that people Over 40 that is most susceptibleas well as smokers and smokers, obesity People who do repetitive exercise for at least 2 hours a day. If you suspect you have tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, there are ways to heal and return to activity and hopefully reduce pain in the future.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Both tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are overuse injuries caused by damage to the muscles and tendons from the wrist to the elbow. Overuse or lack of strength in the shoulder muscles or core can cause micro-tears in the tendons that attach to the elbow, causing both pain and inflammation.
Theresa Marko, a New York City-based physical therapist and a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association, says pain in the elbow area is the first sign you may have the condition. She “can feel tightness in her forearm muscles,” she says. “Sometimes you may feel a clicking or ‘catching’ sensation, or you may not be able to fully extend your elbow.”
Pain was Melanie Madden’s first indication that something was wrong two years ago. “She was playing tennis for about three months when she first noticed,” said a 45-year-old real estate agent in Boulder, Colorado. “At the time, I had a new dog and was frequently throwing balls for him, practicing yoga, and playing golf. I expected it.”
Eventually, the pain would wake Madden up in the middle of the night, making it painful to drink coffee.
how do you treat it?
Managing the condition when the pain starts can reduce the time it takes to overcome it. “It can be a stubborn injury,” says Mercy Goolsby, M.D., a sports medicine physician and director of the Center for Women’s Sports Medicine at the New York Hospital for Special Surgery.
The first line of defense against golf elbow or tennis elbow is to identify the activity that causes it. “For example, if you suddenly find yourself playing pickleball, cut back,” Dr. Marco says. With early detection, it may be enough to reduce the time spent aggravating an injury. If not, discontinue completely until rehabilitation exercise progresses.
This can be difficult as many of the simpler everyday activities such as time to make phone calls, housework such as cleaning, sewing, and washing the dishes can exacerbate the injury.
Next, experts recommend icing and anti-inflammatory medications, as well as wearing “tennis elbow.” strapapply pressure to the painful area (however, What some studies have found The effect may be psychological). Some experts recommend using a wrist immobilization brace for severe pain to prevent wrist extension that causes elbow pain. You can also try gently massaging the top of your forearm an inch or two below your elbow, with your hand facing down, Dr. Marko says.
But most of the time, she says, the root of the problem is a weak shoulder. “Start doing shoulder and rotator cuff exercises now.”
to try shoulder external rotation: Lie on your healthy side and place a rolled towel between your upper arm and torso. Bend your upper arm at the elbow, lower it toward your belly, and then bring it back down, repeating 3 sets of 15 repetitions.You can also easily add squeeze the shoulder blades Repeat 3 sets of 15 while standing and sitting. As time passes and you start to feel better, you can incorporate weights and resistance bands.
“But when your elbow hurts, it becomes painful to hold weights,” Dr. Marco says. “What I do is place ankle weights around people’s wrists and have them relax their hands while doing sideways exercise movements.”
Consider a full home from there exercise program Graduated from the American Academy of Orthopedic Medicine.
If no progress is seen, a physical therapist can manually loosen the joint and develop an individual strengthening program. You can also put your arm in motion to assess your readiness to return to your sport or activity.
Some doctors may recommend alternative approaches, such as: platelet-rich plasma, shock wave therapy, dry needling Or there’s the corticosteroid injection, but it’s just as unproven as taking large doses of gelatin, regardless of what your friends and social media say.
Madden took tennis out of his routine for the first time. When that wasn’t enough, she also stopped other uncomfortable movements, like throwing a ball for her dog and doing yoga. “I found someone who specializes in wrists and elbows and I saw them twice a week for about six weeks,” she said.
Once it starts to heal, use pain as a guide and test your elbow little by little in sports and activities. Dr. Robert Parisian, an orthopedic surgeon at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, says it’s worth a visit to an orthopedic surgeon in the worst-case scenario—that is, if you take a few weeks off and try to work with a physical therapist. rice field.
“Not because I’m suggesting surgery, but because I’m considering other treatments,” he said. “The success rate for multiple treatments is about 95%.”
Amanda Loudin is a freelance writer covering health and science. Her writings have been published in the Washington Her Post, The Outside, and many others.