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Epicondylitis

Exercising your muscles is essential if you want to have a healthy lifestyle. This is because exercise not only promotes better cardiovascular circulation, but also allows proper oxygenation of the body’s muscles.

There are multiple exercises and sports activities that seek to improve the quality of life of people, and, at the same time, improve the general condition of the body. In fact, we can find sports that are so beneficial that they allow practically all muscles to be exercised at the same time, and, simultaneously, perform cardiovascular activities. This is the case of tennis, one of the most recommended sports to maintain an optimal state of health, and even to lose weight.

Up to this point so good. Exercise is necessary and activities like tennis are quite beneficial for health. However, are there any risks? Could there be a problem exercising?

Well, as difficult as it may sound, there are. Some problems are known to arise when exercising or playing sports. It is common to hear about these types of injuries or conditions, and tennis, which we have previously referred to as one of the optimal sports for improving physical health, can cause certain types of injuries to various parts of the body.

Next, we will talk about this type of injury, more specifically one of them, whose name is closely related to tennis. It is about epicondylitis , a well-known injury among tennis players and that, in fact, is also known by the name of “ tennis elbow ”.

What is epicondylitis?

Epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, is a disease that arises from overuse of the elbows . Generally, this disease does not arise only from using the elbow many times, but from applying a lot of force during its use constantly. The risk of suffering from this disease usually increases when precautionary measures are not taken.

Lateral epicondylitis

This disease is also known as lateral epicondylitis because of the affected area. As the suffix ” itis ” indicates, this condition consists of inflammation. Specifically, it is the inflammation and micro-tear of the tendon fibers that join the extensor muscles and bones that are located in the elbow , and those that allow us to carry out the elbow extension movements.

These extensor muscles are the ones located on the lateral epicondyle, which is why the disease is known as epicondylitis. Another reason why it is sometimes called lateral epicondylitis is because there is another quite similar disease called epitrocleitis or golfer’s disease , which, in a similar way, affects the extensor tendons, only this time the tendons are inflamed. those of the epitrochlear muscles.

The tendons affected during this disease are those that are located on the outside of the elbow, exactly in the region where the lateral epicondyle is located, one of the bones that allows the characteristic movement of the elbow.

Causes of tennis elbow

When hearing the name tennis elbow, people often think that it is a disease that only affects those who play tennis or other similar sports. However, this is not entirely true, and this disease can also affect anyone , both athletes and non-athletes.

Depending on the daily activities that are carried out, even a person who works in an office can develop epicondylitis. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 3 or 4% of the population can suffer from this disease , so it is much more common than it may seem at first.

Next, we reveal to you what are the most common causes for a person to suffer from this problem.

Overuse

One of the main reasons why a person can suffer from epicondylitis is because of the overuse of the extensor tendons that make up the elbow . This overuse can occur for many reasons. Mainly, it is denoted in people who usually use the forearm in certain positions that force these tendons. Those who perform many activities that include hyperextension of the elbow, or who tend to perform movements that constantly put some pressure on these tendons.

By itself, overuse is one of the most likely reasons behind this disease. However, the situation worsens because this cause is often mixed with other conditions and situations in which it can exponentially increase the probability of suffering from tennis elbow.

Activities that can lead to overuse

We have already commented previously that tennis players and other athletes are not the only ones who are prone to developing this disease. There are some activities, both work and recreational, that are capable of causing this condition, and do not necessarily have to do with practicing any sport.

Among these activities, two types of activities can be highlighted that present a risk of developing epicondylitis. These are activities where the use of force is required, and those in which it is necessary to use the hand or forearms in uncomfortable positions for relatively long times.

Type 1

In the first type we find those activities where the use of force is generally required , mainly carrying, pushing or carrying heavy objects. A clear example of this type of activity is found in work in factories, buildings and warehouses. Another example is when you go to a gym to lift weights. Depending on the technique used or the exercise performed, it is possible to develop tennis elbow over time.

Type 2

The second type corresponds to those activities where the position of our elbow or forearm is not the most comfortable to perform our tasks . In these types of activities we can find, for example, office work, where things like moving the mouse or writing on a computer can, in the long run, cause tennis elbow if certain precautions are not taken, or if poor ergonomic positions are maintained .

Another rather curious case is, for example, that of painters, who can develop tennis elbow due to the movement they make with their wrist, forearm and elbow when painting. The longer you paint continuously, the more likely you are to develop epicondylitis. In this case, the technique of the painter also has a lot to do with it.

Make bad moves

It is not only about giving our extensor tendons an overuse, but also a bad movement can accelerate the process of the appearance of micro-tears in these tendons, and, in addition, cause inflammation. Similar to what happens when a bad movement of the foot is made and an inflammation occurs in the ankle tendons; When a bad movement is made in the elbow, the forearm or even the wrist, there is a risk of a micro-tear or mistreatment of the epicondyle tendons .

Age

Age, rather than being a cause, is a factor that increases the chances of suffering from epicondylitis. Of the registered cases, on average, people over 30 and under 50 are the most likely to suffer from this disease .

The main reason for this is that people in this age range are neither very young nor very old. That is, they are young enough to have an active lifestyle or to carry out activities that are prone to developing this disease, but also, as they pass a certain age, the extensor tendons, as well as their muscles, gradually lose strength. little.

Of course, this is not a determining factor, since it is still possible for people under 30 and over 50 to develop tennis elbow, it is just that they are not so common cases. Everything will depend on the lifestyle of the person.

Symptoms of Epicondylitis

There are not many symptoms of tennis elbow. First, you have to know that it is tendinitis, that is, an inflammation of the tendons. In this case, of the extensor tendons that are located in the elbow. What does this imply? Discomfort and pain when performing basic movements such as extending or retracting the forearm .

But pain is not only present when performing this action, in fact, epicondylitis is characterized by always presenting constant pain in the outer area of ​​the elbow . This pain varies in intensity, and always starts out mild, and then gradually increases in intensity and becomes quite annoying and sometimes difficult to bear.

Another symptom of this disease is that the pain worsens when making certain movements of the wrist and forearm . For example, it is possible to feel stitches in various parts of the elbow, forearm and wrist when performing movements such as those commonly made when turning a key, when shaking a racket and in some cases even when closing and opening the hand.

It should be noted that, initially, as it is not such a strong pain initially, it is easy to ignore and continue doing daily activities, whether it is playing sports or going to work. It is normal that after completing these activities, usually the next day, the pain increases in intensity, although sometimes temporarily. This is because the pressure on the tendons increases, thus worsening their inflammation.

Another symptom is a weak grip. Although it may seem strange, tennis elbow affects the force that can be exerted when closing the hand. Due to this, it is normal that when you suffer from this disease you have a weaker grip than you are used to, in addition to the pain that accompanies this action.

Diagnosis

Once you suspect that something is wrong, the diagnosis of epicondylitis is particularly straightforward and relatively quick. It can be said that it consists almost exclusively of two parts, of which, almost always the second, is only as a method of confirmation and as a support to facilitate treatment.

1. Medical interview

The first part of the diagnosis consists of a medical interview . Generally, you do not need any previous step to attend the consultation, as long as you go directly to the traumatologist, who takes care of these types of situations.

During the consultation with the traumatologist, they will ask you a series of questions related to the pain you are presenting . Among these questions, they will most likely ask you some such as when the pain started, if it started as a strong pain, what activities make the condition worse, and so on.

As you answer the questions, your doctor will likely ask you to perform a series of simple physical tests , such as moving your forearm or wrist in certain ways or extending your arm and then retracting it. In this way, what you are looking for is to locate the causes of the pain. To do this, you will most likely accompany the tests with questions such as what you feel, where in your arm it hurts, and the like.

This would correspond to the first stage of diagnosis. In several cases, this first stage is sufficient to determine whether it is epicondylitis. However, they will likely also ask you to have an ultrasound of the elbow area to be sure.

2. Ultrasound

Ultrasound is the second stage in the diagnosis of epicondylitis. It is the most efficient method to determine if it is tennis elbow. The great advantage of this medical examination is that it allows determining, not only the existence of the disease, but also knowing its severity. In this way, a lot of information is provided that the doctor can later analyze to determine the most efficient treatment. Despite not being absolutely necessary, it is always recommended.

Treatment

In most cases, tennis elbow can be treated without surgery. This is estimated to be true in approximately 80-95% of cases. However, there are still situations in which the application of surgery is required, which, although it may be more risky, allows to obtain definitive and quick results, although of course, with certain consequences.

Next, we will talk about the 2 main treatments, both non-surgical and surgical treatment.

Non-surgical treatment

The main treatment is non-surgical. This treatment is characterized in that the person does not require surgery to heal. It is the main method used, and it usually takes a long time to get results . However, the consequences are few.

This treatment consists of several parts, some of them are optional, so they will be explained one by one.

Rehabilitation exercises

One of the main methods of this treatment is rehabilitation exercises. These consist of a series of exercises whose objective is to help you relieve pain in the tendons , as well as stimulate self-repair of the same. There are a variety of exercises, mostly involving extension movements. Which exercises you are going to do will depend entirely on the doctor in charge of your recovery.

Keep in mind that these rehabilitation exercises can be somewhat painful at first, but you will need to hold on as long as possible, otherwise it will take longer to heal.

Anti-inflammatories

To support rehab exercises, your doctor will likely send you some anti-inflammatory drugs to ease the symptoms of tennis elbow . These medications will allow you to carry out your daily activities without further complication, but remember not to overdo it, or it could worsen your condition.

Repose

Rest is one of the most important points during treatment . Unlike other illnesses, this rest does not consist of staying at home or in bed for a long time; but rather decrease the use that you give to your extensor tendons . If you play sports, you will most likely be asked to rest during your recovery, as it could make your condition worse.

Outside of this, you can carry out your normal daily activities without problem, from going to work to doing your chores at home or going for a walk. Sure, as long as these activities don’t put high pressure on your tendons. In addition, thanks to anti-inflammatories you can alleviate much of the pain caused by tennis elbow .

Wearing a counterforce bracelet

One way to help you recover faster is through a counterforce bracelet . These bracelets are orthopedic equipment used to relieve not only the symptoms of epicondylitis, but also to prevent further damage to the extensor tendons.

They come in various sizes, each with its own benefits and specifications, so you can ask your doctor for recommendations in case you’re unsure. You can also look for them as elbow pads for epicondylitis.

Surgical treatment

On the other hand, there is surgical treatment. This option is much faster to get rid of tennis elbow, however, that it is the fastest option does not mean that it is the most recommended. In fact, it is only considered when time has passed and the patient has not yet recovered with regular treatment. Generally, it takes at least 6 months for the doctor to suggest surgery.

In any case, it is not mandatory. If the patient wishes, or the doctor sees it necessary, it is possible to perform an operation even before performing the regular treatment. You should keep in mind that after surgery, you will need time to recover, and there is a possibility that some consequences or side effects remain.

What does this treatment consist of?

Surgical treatment can be of two types. The first one open, which is the most common case. The second, with the help of miniature equipment, which will allow the operation to be carried out through small incisions. In both cases, the operation only lasts one day and does not require a stay in the hospital or clinic.

Open surgery

Open surgery is the typical surgery in which the area affected by epicondylitis is exposed. It is a slightly longer process than the second type of surgery, but it is one of the most common, and it does not require the use of specialized arthroscopic equipment.

Arthroscopic surgery

Arthroscopic surgery is surgery that is done with the help of very small special equipment. The main goal of this surgery is to achieve the same results as open surgery, but with smaller incisions.

Consequences of treatment with surgery

As we discussed a little above, this type of surgery can have some consequences, although it does not happen in all cases. If it is true that probability is still present. It is precisely for this reason that regular treatments continue to be used before surgery.

Among the possible side effects of this surgery can be highlighted:

  • Loss of strength in the forearm.
  • Reduced flexibility in the arm.
  • Nerve damage
  • Loss of grip strength.

In addition, you should bear in mind that, despite being a quick operation, the rehabilitation time can be quite long, sometimes even longer than a regular treatment. So you must be prepared to spend several months in rehab. Of course, this will depend mainly on the severity of the disease.

Prevention methods

The most effective prevention method for this disease is perhaps avoiding overuse of the extensor tendons, as well as avoiding putting too much pressure on them. However, this is not always possible, either because you practice a sport, or because your job simply prevents you from doing so. Even so, there are other methods that can help you prevent this type of disease, for example:

Applying cryotherapy after any activity that may cause illness

One of the most effective preventive methods to prevent epicondylitis is to apply cryotherapy to the elbow and forearm once you finish doing activities that can cause the disease ; whether they are sports, work or recreational activities.

In addition to this, you can take advantage of and apply small massages to improve the effect of cryotherapy . In this way, you can improve the preventive effects of this method.

Stretch very well before any activity

It is very important that before doing any activity you perform specialized stretching exercises . Exercises that are effective for this purpose are stretches for the extensor muscles, as well as some exercises for the wrist. There are many exercises of this type that can be very useful, and they are also very easy to perform.

Wear the right equipment at all times

As already mentioned, one of the names by which this disease is known is from the sport of tennis. This is because tennis players are the most likely to develop this disease, as well as those who play similar sports.

That is why when practicing this type of sports it is recommended that the person always use appropriate equipment . That is to say, that the racket has the ideal weight and size for each one, since this is one of the main factors that influence the appearance of epicondylitis.

Use support equipment

The straps are an effective method to protect athletes from various injuries, and one of these is precisely that of the tennis elbow. One of the simplest and easiest preventive methods to implement is to use an epicondylitis strap to prevent injuries , whether while playing sports, at work, or wherever this disease may occur.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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