Tennis Elbow

Also known as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) 

tennis elbowThe epicondylitis is a painful disease of the elbow. It is called also tennis elbow (or “bends of the player of tennis”), misleading name, because the majority of the people who suffer from this problem do not play tennis. In fact, the epicondylitis is seldom associated activities of leisures.The scientific name of tennis elbow, epicondylitis, indicates an inflammation which occurs in the vicinity of a small osseous projection of the bone of the arm (humerus), just above the articulation of the elbow on the external face of the arm. It happens however that other areas of the front arm lever and elbow are painful. According to certain experts, name “painful syndrome side of the elbow” is more precise, but this name is used still little.

In fact mainly the injured tendons located near the elbow are responsible for the pain associated with the epicondylitis . The tendons are solids bands of fabric which fix the muscles at the bone. When they undergo a repeated tension or an overuse, the tendons become sensitive and inflated. The subject suffers then from tendonitis, medical term indicating the inflammation of a tendon. The side epicondylitis (or tennis elbow) indicates a particular type of tendonitis which touches a particular area of the elbow.

The points of fastener of the tendons are sometimes too small to support the considerable force of powerful muscles. These tendons can undergo an excessive request when the hand or the front armlever carries out movements violent ones and jerked, like gripping, rising or the throw.

The causes and the risk factors:

The appearance of the tennis elbow is often related to the way in which the workers carry out some gestures, such as gripping, torsion, the extension of the arm and displacement. These gestures can become dangerous if they:

  • are carried out in fixed position or in a bad position,
  • are repeated constantly,
  • ask an excessive force,
  • Do not leave at the organization time to recover after the sursollicitation.

The trades concerned are those which require repeated or energetic movements of the fingers, wrist and front arm lever. The tennis elbow can be due to an excessive request at one precise time or to the requests of low importance for a too long period.

The tennis elbow occurs at the people who often repeat the same movement of the hand and wrist. For example, to upward force wrist downwards or by making torsion of the front armlever. Let us think of the sports of racket, the weeding of the garden, the frequent use of the screwdriver, the transport of heavy bags, etc

When one carries out these movements in an inadequate and repetitive way, small tears would be formed in the tendons. These microtraumatisms involve lesions and an irritation of the tendons. The wear of the elbow or the irritation of the nerves in the vicinity of the elbow could also cause pains and ignition. Even if these lesions always do not cause an ignition of the tendons, the neighboring fabrics can ignite and affect the articulation of the elbow.

To some extent, this depends on the condition of your muscles and how much they are overused. In tennis, the injury occurs most frequently among recreational players who are 35 to 50 years of age, when muscles have begun to lose their resiliency and who play at least two or three times weekly. Occasional players are less vulnerable as they tend not to play often enough or hard enough to overstress their arms. Pros are generally protected by superior conditioning and technique, although they too can develop tennis elbow as they grow older.

The symptoms of tennis elbow:

The injury occurs when you flex, twist or contract the tendons that connect muscles to the elbow joint. In time, the overstressed tendons develop microscopic tears, producing tendinitis (painful inflammation of the tendons) centered on the epicondylitis , the point at which the tendons are attached to the elbow. The pain can radiate down to the wrist and up to the shoulder. Moving your arm or gripping something aggravates the pain. Most recreational tennis players who are afflicted feel pain in the lateral part (the outer part, when your palm is up) of the elbow. Experts often attribute this to poor backhand technique, improper serving and a late forehand stroke.

Tennis elbow is a strain of the lateral forearm muscles near their origin on the lateral rounded protuberance (condyle) at the end of the humerous (forearm bone). Symptoms include:

  • Recurring pain on the outside of the upper forearm just below the bend of the elbow; occasionally, pain radiates down the arm toward the wrist
  • Pain caused by lifting or bending the arm or grasping even light objects such as a coffee cup
  • Difficulty extending the full forearm fully because of inflamed muscles, tendons and ligaments
  • Pain that typically lasts for six to 12 weeks; the discomfort can continue for as little as three weeks or as long as several years.

The damage that tennis elbow incurs consists of tiny tears in a part of the tendon and in muscle coverings. After the initial injury heals, these areas often tear again, which leads to hemorrhaging and the formation of rough, granulated tissue and calcium deposits within the surrounding tissues. Collagen, a protein, leaks out from around the injured areas, causing inflammation. The resulting pressure can cut off the blood flow and pinch the radial nerve, one of the major nerves controlling muscles in the arm and hand.


To prevent tennis elbow:

  • Lift objects with your palm facing your body.
  • Try strengthening exercises with hand weights. With your elbow cocked and your palm down, repeatedly bend your wrist. Stop if you feel any pain.
  • Stretch relevant muscles before beginning a possibly stressful activity by grasping the top part of your fingers and gently but firmly pulling them back toward your body. Keep your arm fully extended and your palm facing outward.

The most effective conventional and alternative treatments for tennis elbow have the same basic premise: Rest the arm until the pain disappears, then massage to relieve stress and tension in the muscles, and exercise to strengthen the area and prevent re-injury. If you must go back to whatever caused the problem in the first place, be sure to warm up your arm for at least 5 to 10 minutes with gentle stretching and movement before starting any activity. Take frequent breaks.