You may have heard your doctor call it “lateral epicondylitis”, but tennis elbow isn’t as serious as it sounds.
Tennis elbow is an overuse or repetitive stress injury of the muscles and tendons in the back of your forearm that attach to the outside of your elbow.
Lateral = toward the outside.
Epicondyle = the rounded knob at the end of a bone
-itis = inflammation. (Think “appendicitis”, which is inflammation of your appendix.)
So! The outside knob at the end of your humerus is inflamed, because the muscles that attach there are injured and swollen.
This injury occurs in in about 50% of tennis players, which is why they named it tennis elbow, but it can affect anyone who participates in activities that require repetitive hand, wrist, and arm movement. Especially if that movement requires a tight grip.
Personally, I’ve had quite a few clients who’ve developed tennis elbow simply because they work at a computer all the time. The muscles responsible for tennis elbow are the same muscles responsible for lifting your fingers every time you need to press a key, or click your mouse. Do that all day, every day, and those muscles begin to get tight, achey, and inflamed.
So how can I treat Tennis Elbow?
- Rest. Try to avoid activities that worsen the pain (which, admittedly, is hard when most of us spend all day typing)
- Ice or Biofreeze to reduce inflammation and help numb pain
- Proper ergonomics
- Stretches, particularly of the extensor muscles on the back of your forearm.
- Massage! (You knew I was gonna say it, right?) Forearms are at least an easy spot you can massage yourself, but even a half hour massage of your arm and all the muscle attachments can work wonders for repetitive stress injuries like these.