What Is Tennis Elbow?

What is tennis elbow? There are two types of tennis elbow with each causing pain in a different area of the elbow and forearm. Learn all about it!

There are two types of the condition that is known as tennis elbow with each causing pain in a different area of the elbow and forearm. Lateral epicondylitis is the term used to describe what is commonly known as backhand tennis elbow. This type of tennis elbow occurs when damage is done to the tedons which bend the wrist back away from the palm of the hand. This type of the condition will cause pain in the outer back side of the forearm. Medical epicondylitis which is better known as forehand tennis elbow is caused when damage has been done to the tendons that bend the wrist toward the palm of the hand causing pain on the palm side of the forearm from the elbow toward the wrist. This type of tennis elbow has also been called suit case elbow and baseball elbow.

With backhand tennis elbow the muscles in the forearm which are attached to the outer part of the elbow become sore when extreme stress has been placed on the point of attachment. If you are a tennis player this condition will be evident during a backhand return. In this case the force of the racket hitting the ball will damage the tendons when the roll over the end of the elbow. Forehand tennis elbow, on the other hand, is caused when the wrist is bent toward the palm with excessive force. There are many mitigating factors that can create this condition including weak hand muscles, weak shoulder muscles, wet balls, heavy hitting, using a racket that is too heavy, using a racket that has too small a grip, using a racket that is too tightly strung, throwing baseballs, thrown a javelin, carrying heavy suitcases, serving a ball with too great of a force and using a spin serve.

When these actions are continued after the tendon is injured it is possible for the tendons to be pulled from the bone causing bleeding with forehand tennis elbow. With backhand tennis elbow a continuation of the activities that cause this condition will result in pain even during rest. Forehand tennis elbow will cause pain on the palm side of the elbow and in the thumb side of the forearm. A doctor may diagnose this condition by having the affected person place their arm on a table with the palm up. He will then hold the wrist down and ask the person to raise the affected hand by bending the wrist. If there is pain at the elbow the forehand tennis elbow will be confirmed. With backhand tennis elbow a diagnosis can be confirmed by placing the arm palm down on a table and raising the hand by bending the wrist. Pain will be felt from the elbow to the wrist.

In both cases treatment will consist of the avoidance of any exercise that creates pain in the arm. Exercises that do not use the wrist can be continued or substituted until the injury has healed. With forehand tennis elbow surgery may be required to relieve any persisting pain. With both types of tennis elbow it is recommended that exercises be done to strengthen the wrist muscles after the injury is healed. For forehand tennis elbow you can gently squeeze a soft sponge or ball and then relax. This should be done several times daily. With backhand tennis elbow try holding a piece of wood palm down, about the diameter of a broom stick with a one pound weight attached to it by a rope. Then wind the rope up. This exercise should be repeated ten times every other day and you can increase the weight but do not increase the number of repetitions.

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