Elbow, Wrist And Hand Pain
This is an umbrella term used to describe any problem or injury to the common extensor tendon of the forearm where it attaches onto the outer side of the elbow joint. The common extensor tendon muscles are responsible for producing wrist and finger extension, movements that are involved in certain racquet strokes in sport (hence the name tennis elbow) and activities such as typing, gripping and lifting loads. When repetitively used, this tendon complex can become irritated, leading to inflammation and tendinopathy. It is essentially what is termed a 'repetitive strain injury', which is then prolonged by the changes that take place in the fibre alignment and makeup of the tendon once strain is placed upon it. This then in turn responds abnormally to (normal) loads and tension, which means that the condition can easily become chronic and never fully settle unless the tendon is addressed with appropriate management at an early stage.
Management consists of rest, ice, anti-inflammatories (as appropriate) and physiotherapy, working to restore normal movement and tendon response to loading, through specific stretches and rehabilitation exercises. Eccentric training is commonly used as part of the rehabilitation process along with soft tissue mobilisation as necessary. Acupuncture may also be helpful in settling pain and local inflammation.
Chronic cases of tennis elbow may benefit from a steroid injection or, in the most severe cases, surgical intervention.