Lateral epicondylitis is prevented with simple stretching methods
Content updated on 13/07/2020
Lateral epicondylitis is an inflammatory process in the lateral region (outside) of the elbow, more specifically in the tendons of this region, which are inserted in a bony prominence called the lateral epicondyle. Despite the popular name “tennis elbow”, this syndrome is not exclusive to practitioners of this sport. It also affects those who perform any other activity that requires repetitive movements of the hand and wrist, that is, the person may show signs and symptoms of this condition without ever having played tennis.
Even a photographer who works daily with a generally heavy professional camera can develop the disease. However, in these cases, treatment is even more difficult, since they generally cannot stop using that hand so that the process can heal. The same occurs in professional athletes who cannot stop playing, which slows down and makes treatment practically impossible by continuing to force a sick region – that is, the person continues to force the insertion of the common extensor tendon of the fingers into the lateral epicondyle.
Lateral epicondylitis is perhaps the most common elbow injury in physiotherapy clinics. There is a range of activities that involve repetitive movements, and therefore can trigger tennis elbow, including fencing, golf, tennis (between sports activities) and typing, using the computer mouse, knitting, gardening, playing instruments musicals, painting and carpentry (among professional activities and hobbies).
“Activities that involve tennis, typing, knitting, painting and musical instruments can trigger tennis elbow, due to repetitive movements.”
The most common symptoms are pain or increased sensitivity in the lateral region (outside) of the elbow, with difficulty making movements, such as turning a knob, squeezing an object, closing the hand or pressing the outside of the elbow ( in the case of affecting the right hand, the person feels pain even in the act of greeting someone). Most of the time, the pain starts moderate and worsens with time and, although the problem is in the elbow, there is often pain irradiation and the patient is left with burning sensation in the arm, forearm and even wrist.
The treatment of tennis elbow in 90% of cases is conservative, that is, non-surgical and consists of the use of medications (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and analgesic), rest of the affected segment (rarely requiring immobilization), physiotherapy and counseling in relation to ways of carrying out activities, in order to avoid overloads and inappropriate movements.
Eventually, corticosteroid infiltration can be performed at the pain site to deflate faster, and more than one infiltration should be avoided. The treatment with pulsatile waves is also very effective, being used in the most severe cases or in professional athletes, since the high cost of this treatment makes it impossible to perform it in all cases.
Even so, the patient must follow instructions to avoid relapses. Surgical treatment is exceptional and much more expensive than treatment with pulsatile waves, but fortunately, with few complications and high efficacy as well.
Some attitudes are important for the prevention of lateral epicondylitis, such as: warming up and stretching the upper limbs before performing activities in which these segments will be used; alternate use of hands to avoid overuse; strengthen the muscles of the upper limbs and back; correctly perform sports techniques and perform professional activities; if pain occurs after performing any activity, apply ice.