Tennis Elbow – Or Should That Be Lateral Epicondylitis?
Tennis elbow is the top injury associated with all racket sports, including tennis, badminton and squash. However, far more situations of tennis elbow are seen in people who aren’t involved in any such sports. It consequently seems logical that the condition should become better known by its more anatomical, pathological name. Lateral Epicondylitis. Or should it?
The term lateral epicondylitis derives from the lateral epicondyle – the bony protrusion of the humerus (upper arm bone) at the outside of the elbow joint and these abbreviation ‘itis’, meaning inflammation. However, research has now shown that there is rarely any inflammation present. Instead, the usual finding is collagen disarray and degenerative tissue changes in the tendon of the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle, at the attachment just below the lateral epicondyle. Due to the absence of inflammation and the without of involvement of the epicondyle itself, a more accurate term is extensor tendinopathy.
Extensor tendinopathy is caused on the most part by excessive wrist extension. This is the movement where, with the palm of the hand facing down, the wrist is bent back so that the fingers point to the ceiling. This can occur in many situations and activities, with some of the most shared including using a screwdriver and painting and decorating. It is often the case that the patient has spent the weekend doing such an activity that they do not do on a regular basis, consequently overloading the muscles beyond their threshold.
Treatment of extensor tendinopathy should include rest from any irritating activities in addition as ice and compression to ease pain and swelling if present. Following this, treatment from a specialized should be sought, which may include massage, ultrasound, acupuncture or other therapeutic treatments. A rehabilitation programme should also be implemented which involves stretching and strengthening exercises.
Various products are obtainable to aid treatment, including several styles of sustain, brace or clasp. These can be useful in the mid to late stages of rehabilitation as activity is little by little increased, to prevent repeated overuse.