Believe it or not, you can suffer from tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) even if you’ve never played the sport a day in your life. In fact, you can suffer from tennis elbow even if you don’t play any sports. Many patients diagnosed with this condition suffer from it because of some type of repetitive motion that requires the use of their arms.
For example, you can suffer an injury to your elbow throwing a baseball, using tools, painting, lifting furniture, being a carpenter, and even playing a musical instrument. If you are a tennis player, this medical condition develops because of a backhand stroke. This condition of the elbow occurs when the tendons that connect the muscles of the forearm to the elbow bones become inflamed.
If you believe that you are dealing with tennis elbow, it’s important to seek an evaluation from a trusted doctor at OrthoBethesda. The sooner you receive a diagnosis, the sooner we can develop a treatment plan for you to help manage pain and heal the injury. Your treatment plan in Arlington, VA could include pain management via medication, surgery, physical therapy, or a combination of the three.
How Does Tennis Elbow Present Itself?
This elbow injury (lateral epicondylitis), along with carpal tunnel syndrome and golfers elbow, exhibits pain on the outside of the arm in the location where the forearm and elbow connect. Pain presents itself when there is inflammation in the tears of the tendons that connect with the muscles of the forearm. The elbow pain worsens when you attempt to grab or lift an item.
What Causes Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow can be caused by different and varied activities, including repetitive motion or trauma, like a fall. Repetitive motion is often referred to as overuse.
Some of the most common occurrences of tendon injuries come from repetitive motions including the following:
- Cutting meat
- Moving furniture
- Using a hammer
- Cutting wood
- Digging ditches
When trauma causes you to suffer an injury to your elbow it is often due to a fall, a collision while playing sports, strain while driving, or while working with heavy machinery. A blow to the elbow of any kind can lead you to suffer an injury that is painful. Seeking professional treatment is your best option to relieve and discomfort and pain
The Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
Elbow pain from any type of injury will present itself in various forms. Be on the lookout for the following symptoms if you have suffered an injury to a tendon, your hand, soft tissue, wrist, elbow, or other areas of your arm:
- Pain and swelling
- The area is too painful to touch
- Any movement of the elbow is difficult
- Pain that travels down the arm to the wrist or hand
Home Treatment Methods
If after visiting a doctor in Arlington, it might be recommended that you try some home treatment methods before physical therapy or surgery. Home treatment methods for pain include the following:
- Rest the elbow
- Apply ice to the elbow
- Take pain medication (acetaminophen)
- Wear a brace, splint, or compression wrap
Steroid injections for anti-inflammatory purposes might be suggested if the pain is severe enough but the doctor doesn’t see any reason for you undergoing surgery. The injection of steroids can be done as an outpatient procedure, which means you will not require a hospital stay.
Physical Therapy for Tennis Elbow
One of the first methods our team recommends for elbow pain if home treatment doesn’t work is physical therapy. Physical therapy is a great way to improve the blood flow to the tendons of the elbow. If blood flow can be improved, healing will be quicker. During therapy, the person treating you might even show you different ways to hold or swing your tennis racquet or the tools you use at work. Once you are released from the treatment you should continue to do the exercises and arm movements you learned there to continue the momentum.
Surgery to Heal Tennis Elbow
Surgery will almost always be the last and final option when dealing with elbow pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), and golfer injuries sometimes call golfers elbow. Surgery is usually only suggested when the pain has not subsided in the least bit with steroid injections, home treatment methods, or physical therapy. Another benchmark for surgery is that your conditions and symptoms in the elbow have lasted for six months or more. If you are scheduled for a surgical procedure, it will be one of the following options:
- Incision (open surgery)
- Arthroscopy (small incisions made so tools can be inserted into the arm to repair the damaged lateral area or tendon)
Whichever surgical method you opt for, it will most likely be conducted as an outpatient surgical procedure. Your health is important to you and your family. Don’t let the pain caused by a sports-related or a work-related injury ruin your quality of life in Virginia.
Recovery from Surgery
If you have to undergo surgery for your hand, wrist, tendons, nerve, or another injury to your arms; you likely want to know about recovery time. You will need to undergo physical therapy after surgery in order to regain motion in the arm. You will also need to lift weights in order to strengthen your arm. You should expect to return to normal activities within four to six months for a lateral injury with inflammation.
Schedule an Examination at OrthoBethesda Today
If you have suffered an injury while working at a job that requires repetitive motion or while playing a sport, it’s best to have your arm evaluated by an experienced and trusted team of orthopedic surgeons as soon as possible. Any type of injury can lead to pain, but an injury to the elbow, or carpal tunnel syndrome, can lead to chronic pain if it’s not resolved. Call our Arlington, VA office at (301) 530-1010 to schedule an examination.
We build a treatment plan that is specific to each individual patient. Whether that is being sent directly to surgery because of a traumatic injury or attempting physical therapy first; our staff will make sure the treatment plan is best suited for your situation. We will review the injuries you suffered, your symptoms, and your condition before moving forward with a plan to treat your tendon, wrist, hand, elbow, or other areas of the arm.