Alleviating the pain of Tennis Elbow and Repetitive Arm Movement injuries

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You don’t have to play tennis to develop the condition known as “tennis elbow.” If you are experiencing pain that radiates from your elbow and if that pain gets worse when you are picking up objects or flexing your arm, you may have tendonitis, lateral epicondylitis or medial epicondylitis which are better known as tennis elbow or golf elbow.

The symptoms of this condition can be painful and can get worse over time if you do not receive proper treatment. Because this condition is caused by an injury to the muscles and tendons that support the bones in the elbow and forearm area, overuse can cause the problem to be inflamed. This can cause occasional or constant pain that can inhibit your ability to perform normal daily activities without pain.

The injury gets its name because it effects more than half of athletes who play a great deal of tennis. However, up to 3% of people will develop the condition at some time in their life, even if they have never picked up a tennis racket or a golf club. As a matter of fact, fewer than 10% of all tennis elbow pain is caused by playing the sport, itself. For some reason, tennis elbow occurs in males more than in females and most sufferers of this type of injury are between the ages of 30 and 50 years old. Non-athletes who are likely to develop tennis elbow include landscapers, carpenters, mechanics, factory workers and other laborers who perform repetitive tasks utilizing their forearm as part of their daily jobs.

Pain connected with tennis elbow usually starts gradually with a tinge of pain here and there. It may be more excruciating at night and it will get worse over time if it is not treated. The pain usually intensifies when pressure is applied to the area or when the forearm is being engaged by picking up objects or performing any task that requires a twisting motion. If you do not seek treatment soon, the injury may progress and the pain may intensify to the point that a simple task such as turning your key to unlock your front door will become so painful that it will be impossible.

Other, less common symptoms, may develop for some people who have developed tennis elbow. Swelling may occur in the elbow or forearm area in some rare cases. Other parts of the arm may also, on occasion, be effected by this injury. The pain may travel to the arm, shoulder and neck areas in extreme cases of lateral or medial epicondylitis.

Untreated tennis elbow can also lead to the development of other injuries. Radial tunnel syndrome can develop if an epicondylitis goes untreated. This is a painful condition that occurs when a nerve in the forearm is compressed or pinched. Over time, radial tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent weakness in the affected arm.

There are some home treatments that can help to alleviate the pain and inconvenience caused by a tennis elbow injury. The first thing that should be done is the complete resting of the arm. The repetitive motion that caused the condition should be stopped and should not be continued until the injury is completely healed. Ice packs can also be applied to the elbow and forearm for period of fifteen minutes on and thirty minutes off up to eight times per day. When applying ice, it is important to apply a cloth barrier between the ice pack and your skin to avoid damage to the outer layer of your skin which could be very painful. An over the counter medication such as Ibuprofen may also help to alleviate some of the pain in your arm.

Once you seek professional medical attention, your doctor will likely prescribe a variety of treatments to heal your injury and permanently alleviate the pain. Your doctor will likely administer a steroid injection which will provide some relief from pain and will reduce any swelling in the area. He may also wrap the arm with a compression bandage or apply a splint to immobilize the elbow and forearm. This will allow the arm to enjoy a state of complete rest which is necessary for faster and better healing. In severe cases, a pulsing ultrasound may be used to break up any scar tissue in the elbow area. This will increase the ability of blood to flow to the painful area.

There are several things that anyone who engages in repetitive motions can do to try to prevent the development of tendonitis or any other type of tennis elbow-related injury. Warming up your muscles prior to starting any activity is highly recommended. When muscles are properly stretched and warmed up, they are less likely to experience an injury. Always use the correct equipment that is the proper size and weight for your body size and strength level. You should also take frequent breaks from any repetitive activity in order to give your muscles and tendons a break. A five minute break every hour or so can be very helpful in avoiding injuries.

Tennis elbow can be painful and can lead to debilitating pain that can impact every aspect of your life. It is important to take every available safety measure to avoid developing any injury at all. If you do begin experiencing any pain or discomfort, do not ignore it. Go ahead and take care of the problem immediately. You don’t want it to progress to the point of developing other, more serious, medical problems involving nerves or swelling. You also don’t want to allow your injury to progress to the point that a complete immobilization is required. When in doubt, visit your Doctor and have a professional officially diagnose and treat your pain.

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