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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

About My Aches: Tennis Elbow

About my Aches: Tennis Elbow

What is it?

The extensor muscles that allow you to flex your wrist run up your forearm attach to tendons which attach to a bone on the outside of your elbow called the lateral epicondyle. When these tendons or muscles tear or get irritated, it is known as lateral epicondylitis. It is also known as "Tennis Elbow" since it is located on the outer side of the elbow, an area used and abused by many tennis players, however it is not an injury only tennis players can get.

What does it feel like?

Pain in the outer side of the elbow or in the wrist when flexing or moving it. It can also be felt as pain or weakness in gripping or picking up an object.

What causes it?

Doctors can not define a definite reason that tennis elbow develops, but it is usually a result of repetitive stress - or using the same muscles the same way over and over again. Tennis players repeatedly and forcefully swing their forearms sharply while gripping a racket, hairdressers stand for long hours holding heavy hair dryers, office workers repeatedly work or click a computer mouse, and gardeners spend many hours using the fine motor muscles in their wrists and forearms. All of these actions can irritate and potentially damage the entire length of muscles and tendons from the wrist to the elbow, resulting in the irritation surrounding the lateral epicondyle.

Can Massage help?

Massage can help loosen the overly tight muscles in the elbow and forearm. It can also help to decrease inflammation and increase range of motion in the wrist and elbow.

About my Aches: Tennis Elbow

What can I do on my own?

Since tennis elbow is a repetitive stress injury, resting and being aware of proper ergonomics and the movements of the wrist and elbow will help. Ice, anti-inflammatory medicines, and possibly a brace for the wrist, forearm and/or elbow can help decrease pain and allow the tendons to heal.

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