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Tennis elbow and Golfer's Elbow

Updated on June 17, 2015

I have a habit of surfing the Internet on my PC for long hours and had seen somewhere on a TV programme about Tennis elbow. The aim behind this hub is to make everyone aware that Tennis elbow is no longer a painful condition that affects only sportspersons or labourers but can affect you and me as well. While I was finding information about the above condition, I came across another one very similar to Tennis elbow named as Golfer's elbow. So that's an unplanned addition to the hub.

These are the main topics that we will be going through:

  • What is a tendon and what does it do?
  • What is Tennis elbow?
  • What are the causes? How can using computers cause Tennis elbow?
  • How can you alleviate the pain? The dos and don'ts.
  • What is Golfer's Elbow and how to deal with it?

What is a Tendon and what does it do?

In simple words, a tendon is a connector that connects your bones to your muscles. Unlike ligaments which connect bones to other bones, tendons attach muscles to bones. The reason why they are important is that muscles generate the primary force to put our bones in motion. All this however is commenced and supervised by the brain and the nervous system.

Basic interface between a bone and a muscle

Source
Lateral Epicondyle as indicated by the arrow
Lateral Epicondyle as indicated by the arrow | Source

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis(since it affects the lateral epicondyle) or in simple words Tendonitis is an inflammation, pain or tenderness of the tendon that connects your forearm muscles to your elbow. The pain in this case is prominent on the outside of the elbow which can however spread to the arms as well when the affected person uses his hands for performing activities.

However an article (the last reference) claims that tennis elbow is not always a result of an inflammation but often can be due to a term called Tendonosis or tendinosis (as mentioned in Wikipedia). Tendonosis creates tissue degeneration leading to stiffness of the tendon eventually causing the tendon to lose its strength! In either case it is not good for you to overwork your muscles!

What are the causes?

If you have been involved in activities that put a lot of stress on your wrists, forearms or those that involve repetitive motions like plumbing, cutting with a saw, painting using rollers, typing you might experience this painful condition. General causes include:

  • Poor backhand technique in Tennis
  • Hammering nails
  • Raking
  • Picking up heavy buckets
  • Overexertion
  • Sudden forceful pull or a forceful extension of the epicondyle
  • Too much Bending of the wrist
  • Typing can complement the other major factors

Be careful the next time you pick up a heavy bucket! Or else be prepared for this:

Source
Don't do this!
Don't do this! | Source
Keep your hands at level with the keyboard
Keep your hands at level with the keyboard | Source

How can computers cause Tennis elbow?

Basically it has got to do with two main reasons:

  • The mouse that we use causes our forearm to twist and this can cause pain in the long run. Moreover, you could be even stretching your arm if your mouse isn't located at the right distance from your seat. Both the height and the distance matter. This would be clear from the video.
  • Another reason might be if your hands are not level with the keyboard while you type. The following diagrams illustrate the Dos and Don'ts while working on a computer.

Dos:

  • Check the position of your hands while typing.
  • Use a wrist pad if you feel that your hands are quite higher compared to your keyboard and you have nothing to support them.
  • Maintain 90 degrees between your back and the seat.
  • Try switching to ergonomic keyboard and mouse (they are better suited to make your wrists and forearms comfortable)
  • Do muscle strengthening exercises because all the pain is due to weakness of the muscles.

Don'ts:

  • Do not keep your hands too low or too high compared to the keyboard.
  • Do not stretch them either.
  • Don't go on a typing spree without taking some necessary rest in between.

Source

How to alleviate the pain?

  • Take proper rest. These conditions usually aggravate when you inflict more and more damage without letting any healing to take place. Our body has got the built-in mechanisms to deal with various difficulties provided we give them the time.
  • Try icing the painful area. This helps reduce inflammation, pain and swelling.
  • Use an elbow support.
  • Do regular exercises to improve the strength in the forearm region and reduce stiffness.
  • Painkillers can also be effective for mild pains.
  • Try Acupuncture.
  • If nothing works then surgery might be the best choice.

Medial epicondyle as indicated by the arrow
Medial epicondyle as indicated by the arrow | Source

What is Golfer's Elbow?

Golfer's elbow is a condition very similar to Tennis elbow, the only difference lying in the area affected. In this case it is the medial epicondyle that is the cause of the pain. The pain happens internally in the elbow and forearm region unlike earlier where it was an external pain while moving the arms. The causes, treatment and the proper techniques to avoid Golfer's elbow are all very similar to tennis elbow and so I won't elaborate on the same. The only additional cause in this case is playing Golf, baseball or softball.

How to identify this?

You might be experiencing tenderness of the elbow or it might swell. The pain will be more when you use your hands for activities like lifting your hands or twisting your forearms.

Exercises to help reduce the pain

Note

Please consult your doctor before trying any of the treatment measures mentioned in this hub. The author should not be held responsible for any harm inflicted due to ignorance of this note.

A request to all the budding Tennis players and all those who might be at risk of acquiring tennis elbow.

  • Adopt the right technique before going on for your matches because that will help you to stay away from injuries.
  • Rest at regular intervals.
  • Type using the right technique.

References

  • http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tennis-elbow/basics/definition/con-20043041
  • http://www.computer-posture.co.uk/tennis-elbow/
  • http://www.blog.ohmyarthritis.com/what-is-the-difference-between-tennis-elbow-and-golfers-elbow/
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennis_elbow
  • http://www.webmd.boots.com/osteoarthritis/guide/tennis-elbow
  • http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00068
  • http://www.emedicinehealth.com/tennis_elbow/article_em.htm
  • http://www.writingandwellness.com/2014/08/19/computer-elbow-is-real-10-tips-to-prevent-relieve-pain/
  • http://www.methodistorthopedics.com/lateral-epicondylitis-tennis-elbow

© 2015 Ramachandra A Pai

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    • Enigmamity profile image
      Author

      Ramachandra A Pai 2 years ago from Vasai

      Included a link by Goodguy for the exercises. Hope this helps :)

    • Enigmamity profile image
      Author

      Ramachandra A Pai 2 years ago from Vasai

      Thanks for sharing.

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 2 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Yes there is. Move your wrist forward (or down) frequently. And hold it for 5 -10 seconds. do that several times a day. That helps the ligaments in the elbow a lot. And ice, both wrist and elbow. It works.

    • Enigmamity profile image
      Author

      Ramachandra A Pai 2 years ago from Vasai

      Thank you CJ. Is there any long term solution (not mentioned above) to the problem that you would like to share?

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 2 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Very informative. I have this problem. But from my mouse, not my years of tennis. Voted up and shared.

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