If you are a tennis player you've probably suffered from tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is brought on by repetitive stress in the tendons of the wrist extensor muscles, just below the elbow. The injury is known as 'Tennis Elbow' (technically lateral epicondylitis) because nearly all cases are caused by the game of tennis.
For tennis players lateral epicondylitis results from:
* A poor backhand technique in tennis
* A racket grip that is too small
* Strings which are too tight
* Playing with wet, heavy balls
Lateral epicondylitis can also be a result of overuse or repetitive strain caused by repeated extension (bending back) of the wrist against resistance. Besides various racket sports, it also be common after periods of excessive wrist use in day-to-day life. My current case of tennis elbow was due to an over zealous racket stringer that changed to different strings and a higher string tension without telling me.
Signs of lateral epicondylitis are:
* Pain about just down from bony area at the outside of the elbow
* Weakness in your wrist with difficulty doing simple tasks such as opening a door handle or shaking hands with someone
* Pain on the outside of the elbow when the hand is bent back (extended) at the wrist against resistance
* Pain on the outside of of the elbow when trying to straighten the fingers against resistance
There's two ways you might notice the start of lateral epicondylitis:
1) Sudden Onset: Sudden onset of lateral epicondylitis occurs in a single instance of exertion such as a late back hand when the extensors in the wrist become strained. This most probably corresponds to micro-tearing of the tendon.
2) Late Onset: This usually takes place within 24-72 hours after a period of unaccustomed wrist extension. Examples might be a tennis player with a new racket or even a person who's spent a weekend doing 'do-it-yourself' projects around the house. Examples might be using hammers, screwdrivers or heavy electric or gas powered tools.
When the elbow pain is so bad you have a hard time opening a door its time to visit your orthopedic specialist. Your doctor will normally gave a cortisone (steroid) shot in the elbow and tell you to take 2 Aleve (anti-inflammatory) pills twice daily. This is the standard treatment for tennis elbow and it's generally quite effective.
There are several good tennis elbow braces to use when your are recovering.. A properly fitting tennis elbow brace will reduce most of the pain and can prevent further damage. There are several tennis elbow braces that can be purchased. Here are a few of the most popular:
1) The Aircast pneumatic tennis elbow armband is my personal favorite. It utilizes a single preinflated air cell to concentrate compression on extensor muscle for more support and less constriction. This is a very durable brace and will last for years. I even keep an extra in my workshop for when hammers or heavy tools are utilized.
2) The Band It tennis elbow brace was Designed by world renowned orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, Donald Fareed, M.D. It focuses compression on the extensor muscle like the Aircast, however it utilizes plastic insert attached to an adjustable strap. One of my friends has used this tennis elbow brace effectively for many years.
3) The most notable elbow brace available may be the Bauerfeind EpiTrain elbow support. This brace is a unique knitted elbow support that incorporates two anatomically contoured silcone inserts. These silicone inserts leave the elbow bones pressure free and provides an intermittent compression to the soft tissue of the elbow joint which leads to increased circulation.