Here’s how to relieve the symptoms

What is tennis elbow: symptoms and causes

Tennis elbow is also known as epicondylitis in technical terms. This is a painful irritation of the elbow tendons. As a rule, tendon attachments are inflamed due to overload. The inflammation affects the tendon attachments of the forearm muscles, which originate in the bony protrusions of the humerus. This bony prominence is anatomically called the epicondyle.

Tennis elbow: how it develops

Tennis elbow is traditionally caused by repeated overloading of the tendons on the outside of the elbow joint. These tendons connect the muscles of the forearm, which run along and through the ulna and radius, to the upper arm. Particularly heavy loads and repetitive movements that strain the outside of the elbow can trigger this irritation. Such monotonous and stressful movements occur, for example, when working on the computer, doing housework (cleaning windows, ironing) or doing manual work (sawing, hammering). Such recurring stresses also occur in tennis, hence its name. Finally, any form of monotonous movement under load can damage the tendon attachments of the forearm muscles. It is also not uncommon for tennis elbow to be caused by an incorrect sleeping position. People who sleep on their sides and use their bent arm as a headrest are more likely to develop tennis elbow. In this position, constant forces are exerted on the loosened muscle and tendon insertions. Micro tears in the tendon attachment then develop rapidly.

Tendon attachment damage is more likely to occur when the forearm muscles are weak and the muscles are simply overloaded. To prevent tennis elbow, especially older people, whose musculature naturally decreases, should pay attention to sufficient and varied exercise.

These are tennis elbow symptoms

Microscopic injuries to tendon attacks of the epicondyle cause typical symptoms. You can usually recognize tennis elbow by the following signs:

  • Pressure pain on the outside of the elbow
  • Pain when moving and stretching the elbow
  • tingling in the hands
  • motor limitations
  • Weakness of the forearm muscles
  • Elbow extension is not possible

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These 3 things help with the symptoms

Tennis elbow treatment always depends on the respective triggers. If the causes are known, targeted treatment can be carried out. As a rule, however, the following measures are recommended to quickly relieve symptoms.

1. Protection and relief

Injured muscles and tendons need rest time for healthy regeneration. Since tennis elbow is mainly caused by repeated movements under load or poor posture in everyday life, it is now important to protect the elbow. Move the joint as little as possible. You can provide relief by lifting your forearm or wearing it in a splint or shoulder sling throughout the day. Rest your arm for at least two weeks. You should also refrain from strenuous sports during this time. Carrying heavy food items or manually moving heavy weights also puts a strain on the forearm muscles. If you’re not fully professionally deployable or can’t reconcile tennis elbow healing with daily work, talk to your doctor to get a sickness note.

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2. Muscle strengthening

When the acute pain in the elbow has healed and you no longer feel any pain during the movements, you can strengthen the muscles with specific exercises for the forearm and stretching exercises. With strong forearm muscles, overloading of tendon attacks can be prevented. To specifically strengthen the forearm muscles, perform the following exercise, for which no sports equipment is needed:

  • Rest your forearm on a flat surface.
  • The hand hangs freely over the edge of the mat to the wrist.
  • Hold a bottle of water or a thick book with your free hand.
  • Lower the weight in your hands slowly and in a controlled manner.
  • Lift it up again with a slow motion of your hand.
  • Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times.

3. Cooling, heating and massage

Acute and fresh injuries of the elbow tendon must be treated with cold. This counteracts swelling and can relieve pain. If tennis elbow has already become a chronic ailment, heat therapy can have a calming effect. Irradiating red light or using a heated seed pillow can produce extremely beneficial results. Thorough massages of the forearm muscles and the elbow region are also helpful against ailments. The massage stimulates blood circulation in the connective tissue and muscles, which can speed up the healing of the tennis elbow.

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