Lateral epicondlytis , also know as tennis elbow or elbow tendonitis, is a common injuries, not only in athletes, but the general population.  It can have nothing to do with playing tennis. Gardners, artists, musicians and construction workers are all prone to his injury.

The extensor tendons in your hand, which are responsible for straightening your fingers and bending your wrist backwards, have a common attachment site at the elbow. When these tendons are stressed they pull on their attachment site, the elbow. Activities that require gripping, or holding the arm in a certain position for an extended amount of time are the main cause of pain/aggravation.  Once the tendons are inflamed than simple activities like lifting a coffee mug or turning a doorknob can cause pain.

The majority of the time, the true problem isn’t in the elbow but the shoulder. The shoulder and shoulder blade are responsible for the stabilization of the arm when it’s away from the body. Typically when we grip something, we are also reaching, or moving our arm outward in front or to the side. If the shoulder isn’t able to stabilize the arm efficiently, it will put an additional load on the next closest joint, which is the elbow. 

Treatment for this injury involves taking the stress of the attachment site, decreasing the inflammation of the tendons and strengthening of the shoulder. It takes 4-6 weeks to build muscle strength, but you don’t have to wait long to get some relief.  A few things you can do immediately to help decrease the pain:

Buy an elbow brace: These can easily be found at your local drug and or grocery store. Apply the brace about one inch below your elbow.  It should be snug, but not too much, as it shouldn’t cut your circulation.

Apply Ice:  Appling cold to the elbow and the forearm tendons daily, especially after activity, will help decrease the inflammation, which will decrease the pain. 

Massage the Tendons:  Use a tennis ball, or have a friend/spouse massage the forearm, up to the elbow.  This helps relax the tendons and restore their elasticity. When a tissue is injured, the body’s response is to tighten and shorten. 

Shoulder Exercises:  Strengthen your Rotator Cuff and Scapular Stabilizers.  Exercises such as rows, pushups, external rotation and internal rotation will build the muscles that support your arm when its away from the body.

So don’t let the name, ‘Tennis Elbow’ fool you.   Anyone can experience this injury, regardless of the sport and activity.