A doctor explains whether only athletes can really get a tennis elbow
The tennis elbow (epicondylitis humeri radialis) is a relatively common disease, in which overloading a certain tendon causes small tears and inflammation in the tissue, which can ultimately lead to tissue changes. An expert has important information on the topic.
Low tennis due to overuse
With a tennis arm, the smallest cracks in a certain tendon are caused by overuse. As a rule, these do not heal on their own and trigger painful inflammations. Among other things, there is elbow pain, in some cases the pain extends to the upper or lower arm. The Cologne “Express” reports online about an interview with Dr. Sven Ostermeier, orthopedic surgeon and sports physician at the Gundelfingen Joint Clinic. The expert answers the most important questions about tennis elbow.
Not only athletes get a tennis elbow
Dr. Ostermeier first explained that even people who have never stood on a tennis court can get a tennis elbow. According to the doctor, the cause of a tennis elbow or tennis elbow is excessive strain on the muscle attachments on the elbow, for example through daily computer work. Some also speak of RSI syndrome (Repetitive Strain Injury Syndrome), the so-called mouse arm. The majority of those affected are already tennis enthusiasts, according to the orthopedist. “It is assumed that every second player is affected at times. Hence the name for this disease, ”said Dr. Ostermeier.
Severe pain can radiate into the hand
The severe pain in the area of the elbow can radiate into the hand. In addition, the affected hand often becomes increasingly weak. According to the expert, this can go so far that “shaking hands or holding a bottle is no longer possible”. A tennis elbow is often preceded by chronic tension in the shoulder and neck muscles, but the main cause is extreme, one-sided or repetitive movements, for example due to heavy do-it-yourself work such as painting walls.
Treatment options for a tennis elbow
The classic therapy for tennis elbows and tennis elbows relies on immobilization, which should heal the micro-cracks. Today, however, the formerly used forearm plaster splint is dispensed with. “If the arm is plastered in, the muscles recede very quickly. Reconstruction through appropriate training usually leads to tennis elbow symptoms again, ”explained Dr. Ostermeier. He continued: “Cooling or heat treatments can also be helpful. Whether cold or warmth is perceived as pleasant must be tried out and decided individually. ”Many patients find cross-massage treatments of the muscles to be beneficial. According to the doctor, combination therapies with stimulation current, ultrasound or shock waves are recommended for pain relief. Anti-inflammatory drugs and acupuncture can also be beneficial.
Novel form of therapy
As the tendon shortens as the microcracks grow together and heal, the muscles should be stretched and strengthened slowly and moderately as soon as possible using physiotherapy. According to the orthopedist, this is important in order to avoid a new occurrence of the symptoms. If the various therapeutic approaches do not improve, surgery can be an option. A new form of treatment for the tennis elbow is therapy with muscle-relaxing injections (botox). "However, the previously mentioned therapeutic methods should be tried first, and then this special procedure may be used," said the doctor. Other experts are rather critical of this treatment. An investigation by researchers at Copenhagen University Hospital showed that injections with botox and the like do not help the tennis elbow.
Exercises for at home too
Dr. According to Ostermeier, tennis players should improve their playing technique to avoid complaints again. "Because this disease often arises from playing with the wrong technique - not only when playing tennis, but also in other racket sports," said the orthopedist. In addition, slow warm-up and regular stretching exercises - not only when playing tennis - are advisable. In order to train and stretch the forearm muscles in a targeted manner, the doctor recommends using a power ball or a small plastic bottle that is filled with water and placed on the inside surface of the non-diseased hand. "Then grab the bottle with the hand affected by the tennis arm, lift it a few centimeters and then put it back on the inside of the other hand, which is still open," explained the expert. It is best to repeat these exercises ten to 15 times several times a day. (ad)