Resuming Sport After Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)

In each sport practiced, problems can appear due to lack of stretching or false movements. When it comes to tennis, the most common problem is epicondylitis. Commonly known as Tennis Elbow, this elbow pain can also be felt after hours of moving a computer mouse.

Decryption of Elbow tennis

In the true sense of the term, the word Tennis Elbow means Tennis elbow. Have you played this sport once in your life, whether on the field or on a ping-pong table  ? If not, you’ve probably seen someone do it. And during the session, you may have noticed that the elbow bends out just a few times. It is the fact of preserving this position of folds which causes lesions at the level of this upper limb of the body. This tendonitis affects the muscles that extend from the wrist to the fingers.

They start from the back of the hand as well as from the back of the phalanges to join the external face of the elbow. These muscles are attached to a bone surface located towards the bottom of the humerus called the epicondyle. Hence the name epicondylitis, which explains the inflammation of this bone surface.

This inflammation of the elbow mainly occurs when you extend the wrist or also when you prevent it from flexing. Thus, the tension of the muscles located there is intensified by flexing the fingers when gripping the racket. As a result, the stresses associated with this traction will increase even more when you re-tighten the bale. The same is true when you operate your computer mouse or only when you are doing your work from your PC, all the time. This position imposes a permanent contraction of the extensors of your wrist and this concentration increases the tensions at the level of the muscles which in the end, end up paralyzing.

Symptoms related to tendonitis of the elbow

Elbow pain as well as sore elbow are the symptoms that characterize epicondylitis. Usually, these pains only affect the dominant arm and can occur suddenly when the person starts physical activity. Initially, epicondylitis can also be recognized by extreme tenderness of the arm. Gradually, this sensitivity turns into pain in the inner elbow and spreads over the entire outer surface of the elbow and then the entire forearm.

The severe pain will then occur when the subject in question begins to: extend their arm; bend the wrist; straighten his wrist against some resistance (even less); fold his hand backwards; perform rotational movements with the wrist or grasp objects with an outstretched arm.

How to treat tendonitis in the elbow?

If you are prone to elbow tendonitis, it is imperative to put your tendons to rest. This thus implies a stoppage of work, a stopping of the practice of sport and a new adaptation of the workstation. The question of how much time off work for epicondylitis will depend on the severity of your case. But usually, it will take a few weeks for the tendonitis of the arm and elbows to heal.

To reduce the pain, it is advisable to take analgesics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is also possible to have recourse to corticosteroid injections if the pain is unbearable. Although this treatment is able to quickly relieve inflammation, be aware that it weakens the tendon. Reason for which it is not very advised especially in the event of tearing.

A physiotherapy session can also take place. The goal here is to prevent the injury from recurring. Physiotherapy brings together different techniques that allow the elbow to regain optimal and painless movement. These techniques concern the correction of the technical gesture of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand; stretches that improve the elasticity of tissues; rehabilitation exercises to improve posture and flexibility of the wrist and elbow.

As all of these treatments fail and the pain persists and becomes chronic, surgical treatment will need to take place. Although rare, this situation can affect almost 10% of patients. This intervention will take place under local anesthesia and it will combine several actions, to name only the lengthening of muscle fibers and muscle disinsertion.

Epicondylitis and self-rehabilitation

If the pain in the elbow is still recent, it can moderate since an anarchic scarring will be formed. Provided of course that the person concerned puts their joints at rest. But, it should still be noted that the effect will only be temporary since the fibers are entangled and more fragile. This implies the fact that after each sudden movement generating a re-tensioning at the level of your elbow, a tear of these fibers will take place.

It’s like a crack that breaks when you spontaneously smile. Hence the importance of consulting a doctor. He will be able to make a diagnosis to treat elbow tendonitis. To do this, he will first of all ask the patient about the symptoms he has experienced. Subsequently, this questioning will be supplemented by an examination of the region of the epicondylitis. If the case of tendinitis is confirmed, the doctor, in addition to physiotherapy sessions, will recommend that the patient perform self-rehabilitation exercises to stimulate tissue repair. This being to give an optimization of the “mechanization of the muscles”.

These self-healing exercises will begin with a self-relaxing muscle massage from the elbow to the forearm. For this, the use of an essential oil of wintergreen is recommended. It not only has anti-inflammatory properties, but also allows these areas to be heated so that healing takes place quickly. To perform the massage, it is advisable to start from the wrist, joining the elbow. By doing it this way, all the biological waste that has accumulated in the muscles is carried back to the heart. When massaging, it is also advisable to press on the most painful areas so that the contracture nodes come off.

The realization of energy massages is also recommended. They are done on the location of the tendon scar and are quite painful. Either way, they are still quite beneficial for muscle regeneration. To do this, you have to cross your arms, then rub the epicondyle perpendicular to the tendon to break the fibers that are misplaced. Then, it will be necessary to follow with a flexion of the wrist in order to increase the tension. This technique should be performed at least two minutes a day until the scar is softened.

Return to sport after elbow tendonitis

Many believe that during the treatment of tendonitis of the elbow, it is not advisable to repeat sports. The answer is no. This kind of problem will not be able to prevent you from running, jogging, sprints or lateral movements. But when it comes to playing tennis, it would be better to wait until you have fully recovered, especially if you have chronic tendonitis. In the meantime, why not find another passion like playing Lego Creator 16  ? It can stimulate your mind at the same time.

However, it is important to note that you can go back to playing ping-pong to begin with. Then you can continue gradually until you are able to hold a racquet without pain. And at the time of the recovery, also take care to put a cuff on your elbow and your wrist. Unlike what one might think, it is not at all a purely aesthetic accessory.

Its main role is to relax the insertion and reduce the various constraints to which your upper limbs will be subject. At the end of each workout, do not hesitate to practice stretching. These exercises will allow you to relax your tendons and muscles while optimizing healing. Eat a healthy, balanced diet as well. The consumption of omega 3 and protein supplements is also recommended.

Do you want to do weight training on dedicated equipment? You can do this as long as you don’t squeeze your wrist. Sudden movement could reopen the wound and in such cases, only surgery will be able to help. Also, in the office, if you tend to work on a computer, consider reducing your tendon strains. For this, it would be better to use a trackball. It will allow you an ergonomic support at the level of your wrist.

If after all these precautions you start to feel a slight pain in your wrist and elbow again, apply ice to it. The cold dissipates inflammation, whether it is inside or superficial. Leave the ice on for at least 15 minutes and repeat this action several times a day.

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