If the arm muscles are overloaded, not only tennis players and golfers can experience the so-called Tennis elbow (alternatively also Golfer's elbow called). Craftsmen and professionals who work a lot on the computer also risk the painful tennis elbow.
Schematic representation of the anatomy of the arm with tennis elbow or tennis elbow. Click to enlarge.
The terms Tennis elbow and Golfer's elbow, also known as epicondylitis, is an inflammation of the tendons and muscles in the area of the elbow.
With tennis elbow, it is an irritation of the outer muscles of the hand and fingers, i.e. the extensor. The golfer's elbow, on the other hand, refers to irritation of the inner muscles of the hand and fingers, the flexor.
In technical terms, the two symptoms are referred to as epicondylitis humeri radialis and epicondylitis humeri ulnaris. The syndromes got their popular names tennis elbow and golfer's elbow due to their frequent occurrence among tennis players and golfers.
The causes lie with the Tennis elbow especially in the overloading of the tendons that are connected to the bones in the elbow area. It is not only the chronic overstimulation that is the cause of the tennis elbow, acute increased stress can also lead to the painful inflammation of the tendon sections.
In athletes in sports such as tennis, golf or table tennis, but also in volleyball players and rowers, the causes of the tennis elbow are the constant repetition of monotonous movements. In the majority of those affected, tennis elbow can be traced back to a job that involves one-sided and repetitive movements.
This includes, for example, the constant use of the computer mouse. The repetitive movements put excessive strain on the corresponding muscles and tendons and cause inflammation in the affected tissue. This leads to the severe pain for tennis elbow and golfer's elbow.
Contrary to what the name suggests, symptoms do not only occur in tennis players. All groups of people who make monotonous movements with their arm are at risk. All those affected have one thing in common: the pain. It increases with a load. Doctors relate tennis elbow to complaints of the lateral epicondyle.
Pain is in the area of the protruding bones of the elbow. There does not have to be a burden. There are also signs at rest. Third parties only have to touch the arm lightly, and pressure pain occurs. The mere bending and stretching of the arm can also be torture. Some patients report a tingling sensation in their hand.
The arms are porters in everyday life. With a tennis elbow, they can no longer fulfill this function after a while. There is a loss of strength. Lifting, grasping and carrying can become a painful experience. Even shaking hands is difficult.
If the tennis elbow is not treated professionally, patients often assume a relieving posture. This initially leads to a reduction in the signs. As a consequence, however, tension in other parts of the body is encouraged. A far-reaching misalignment is the result. After a while, the symptoms of the tennis elbow come back.
A Tennis elbow disease usually runs positively. First of all, the affected person feels severe pain, especially when turning and straining the hand and arm, which usually radiates from the elbow towards the hand.
If these tennis elbow symptoms are ignored, the pain will worsen in the long term. Even light activities, such as holding small objects or carrying light bags, can then be extremely painful for those affected.
In addition, the strength of the arm and hand deteriorates due to the tennis elbow, so that a firm grip becomes visibly impossible. Without long-term treatment, the pain of the tennis elbow and golfer's elbow become constant companions of those affected and lead to severe restrictions in everyday life. Only appropriate therapy can reduce the inflammation and heal the tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow is common in people who put heavy strain on one or both arms over the long term. The ligaments and tendons in the elbow wear out, so that the first pain occurs immediately after the exercise. If the arm in question continues to be heavily loaded, the pain will increase and various complications are possible.
The pain can also occur at rest and an abscess can form. If this clinical picture is not treated professionally, further complications can be expected. If the pus gets into the bloodstream, there is even a risk of blood poisoning. At the same time, there is a strong feeling of malaise, as well as an increased temperature. Treatment by an appropriate doctor is advisable, as otherwise there may even be consequential damage.
However, if treatment is initiated for the first pain in the arm, then the above-mentioned complications can be combated early on or even avoided. The following applies: Anyone who has the first signs of tennis elbow should seek medical and medication treatment at an early stage. In this way, possible complications can be averted at an early stage, so that a much more pleasant course can be expected.
People who are exposed to monotonous movements in everyday life should perform balancing movements at regular intervals. If there are slight complaints and the first irregularities in the muscles, self-help measures taken early on can be enough to alleviate the symptoms. A doctor is not always needed in these cases. If after a restful night's sleep or sufficient exercise as well as sporting activities there are no symptoms, no medical care is necessary.
A doctor is required if the person concerned cannot alleviate the symptoms with his own means. Persistent or increasing pain and impaired mobility should be presented to a doctor. Regardless of whether the monotonous movements are carried out by professional or sporting activities, it is necessary to clarify the symptoms. It must be checked whether there are further malfunctions or whether it is an overload. The person concerned needs medical help and should do physiotherapy exercises.
Tension, pain and sensitivity disorders should be presented to a doctor. If the blood circulation is disturbed, physical performance is reduced or there is a feeling of inner weakness, the person concerned needs help. If everyday activities such as lifting, carrying or holding objects can no longer be carried out as usual, a doctor's visit is necessary.
Treatment of Tennis elbow and Golfer's elbow can be done by different methods. On the one hand, there are various options for treating the tennis elbow non-surgically. In the case of acute pain, short-term measures such as cooling and warming as well as massages of the wrist and arm muscles help.
Anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications can also be a temporary solution. These attempts at treatment can be supported by immobilizing the arm with the help of a special splint. In the long term, however, permanent measures should be taken against tennis elbow. This includes, for example, physiotherapy. This includes certain stretching and strengthening exercises for the muscles. Wearing a bandage during strenuous activity can also reduce the tennis elbow symptoms.
If these different methods do not improve, surgery may be considered. There are different approaches to surgery for tennis elbow and golfer's elbow. On the one hand, the doctor can separate the inflamed tendon from the bone so that it can grow back in another location. This leads to an elongation and thus to a relief of the muscle cord. On the other hand, the doctor can perform a denervation operation in which the nerve cords are cut. After the operation, the tennis elbow should be treated with physiotherapy.
To the painful Tennis elbow and the Golfer's elbow To prevent this, various measures are recommended. On the one hand, monotonous movements should be avoided. On the other hand, athletes should pay attention to the right technique when training and react as quickly as possible to minor symptoms. For non-athletes, an ergonomically designed workplace and regular stretching exercises can relieve the tendons and muscles and prevent tennis elbow.
Keep your arm still, do not strain and cool - this is an effective way to follow up on tennis elbow. In addition, envelopes with chamomile flowers, quark or buttermilk help. Rubbing with arnica, sage, rosemary and St. John's wort oil can also help. After an operation on the tennis elbow, doctors recommend immobilization for about eight to fourteen days to prevent pain.
Immobilization in an upper arm cast after an operation is also often practiced. However, some patients move their joints that have not been immobilized - such as fingers, thumbs or shoulders - too little in a cast. This is wrong - movement of any joints that are not immobilized is required to optimally advance the healing process. Other doctors do not use a plaster cast immobilization at all.
They only recommend relieving the operated arm for a period of fourteen days. After an operation, it is important to limit physical activity in the following days, which does not mean having to lie in bed. Walking even seems very important - if only to prevent thrombosis. On the other hand, sports activities of any kind should be avoided.
The operated hand should never be held down for a long period of time. Even with an upper arm cast, it is important to move your fingers in the bandage - this will prevent swelling. In the event of unnaturally severe pain, a feeling of tightness in the bandage or bleeding in the bandage, the doctor should be informed immediately.
The cause of a tennis elbow is to be found in incorrect use of the human skeletal and muscular system in the forearm. Often this area is barely moved over a long period of time and then exposed to excessive demands through sporting activities or other intense physical work.
In everyday life, care should be taken to minimize the difference between a barely stressed forearm compared to a heavy load. Since the difference in stress demands triggers the adverse health effects, the person affected can independently bring about various changes in everyday life.
It is helpful to consciously initiate this in phases of low stress or to carry out compensatory exercises. In addition, bad posture must be avoided. The movement sequences should correspond to the physical possibilities and should be optimized. In addition, periods of rest must be taken during periods of heavy use. Working on the computer or playing a musical instrument should be interrupted more frequently for the purpose of relaxation.
In physiotherapy, different exercises can be learned that make it easier to cope with everyday life. The training units should be implemented outside of the sessions in a disciplined manner so that the situation improves. A sufficient warm-up phase is particularly important for athletes. In addition, changing the duration of a training session can already lead to a significant alleviation of the symptoms.