Tennis elbow, clinically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that can cause significant discomfort and impede daily activities. This form of tendinitis results in pain on the outside of the elbow, typically arising from overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons.
Despite its name, athletes aren’t the only ones affected. Anyone who engages in repetitive wrist and arm motions is at risk. Recognizing the symptoms promptly can guide you to seek the necessary medical evaluation and treatment.
Before you look for healthcare providers, similar to Selphyl Ortho, read the guide below:
Recognizing The Signs
Identifying the early signs of tennis elbow is crucial for timely and effective treatment. Here’s a closer look at the key indicators that it’s time to consider professional help:
- Persistent Pain: One of the most obvious signs is a consistent pain or burning sensation on the outer part of your elbow. This pain might extend into your forearm and wrist.
- Pain That Worsens With Activity: Notice if the pain intensifies when gripping objects, turning a doorknob, or shaking hands. Activities that involve wrist movements or forearm strength can exacerbate the discomfort.
- Reduced Grip Strength: If you find it increasingly difficult to hold onto objects, especially during routine tasks like lifting a coffee mug or turning a key, it could be a sign of worsening tennis elbow.
- Pain That Doesn’t Improve With Rest: If taking a break from activities that strain your elbow doesn’t lead to improvement, this is a sign that the condition may need professional intervention.
- Morning Stiffness: A feeling of stiffness or aching in the elbow, particularly in the morning or after periods of inactivity, can also indicate tennis elbow.
- Tenderness To Touch: The area around the outside of the elbow may be tender to the touch, indicating inflammation of the tendons.
- Difficulty Performing Daily Tasks: When the pain starts interfering with your ability to perform everyday tasks, like typing, cooking, or carrying groceries, it’s time to consider seeking help.
Recognizing these signs early and seeking appropriate medical attention can prevent the condition from worsening and pave the way for a quicker and more effective recovery. Plus, you’ll know the right pain management options suitable for your needs.
Seeking Professional Help
If you experience any of the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention —not only to alleviate pain but also to address the underlying causes with a sustainable recovery strategy.
Consulting a healthcare professional can provide insights into the specific nature of your condition, something home remedies can’t offer. They can assess your arm’s functionality, pinpoint the exact areas of concern, and develop a treatment plan that’s tailored to your individual needs.
For cases that don’t improve with general care, such as persistent pain that lasts for more than a few weeks despite rest and over-the-counter medication, a referral to an orthopedic specialist may be necessary. They can dig deeper into your condition with diagnostic imaging, like an MRI, to rule out other issues and confirm the diagnosis of tennis elbow.
Exploring Treatment Options
When professional help is sought for tennis elbow, various treatment options may be presented, depending on the severity and persistence of the condition. Here are some paths a healthcare provider might suggest:
- Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help reduce pain and swelling.
- Physical Therapy: A cornerstone of treatment, physical therapy involves personalized exercises that target the specific muscles and tendons affected by tennis elbow. For instance, a therapist might introduce an eccentric wrist extension exercise, which involves slowly lowering a weight in your hand to gradually strengthen your wrist extensors.
- Bracing: Wearing a brace or forearm strap can reduce stress on the injured tissue and allow it to heal.
- Corticosteroid Injections: These can provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation in the affected area.
- Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy: A non-invasive procedure that uses sound waves to stimulate healing in the elbow.
- Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatments: An emerging treatment involving injecting components of the patient’s own blood to promote healing.
Each of these options comes with its own set of considerations, such as the potential for side effects, the duration of the treatment, and the expected recovery time. A thorough discussion with a healthcare provider will help determine the most appropriate course of action based on individual circumstances and the severity of the condition.
When To Consider Surgery
Surgery is typically the last resort. If you’ve tried other treatments for a significant period (usually around six months to a year) without relief, surgery may be the next step. Your healthcare provider will discuss the potential risks and benefits with you in detail.
If you’re grappling with persistent elbow pain, it’s essential to take action. Seeking professional help at the right time can make a difference in your recovery and overall health.
By following these guidelines, you can aim to return to your daily activities with confidence and comfort. Remember, recovery times can vary, with some patients finding relief within weeks, while others may take several months to fully recover. Keeping an open dialogue with your healthcare provider about your progress is crucial.