Tennis elbow refers to the nagging ache on the outside of your elbow, which can affect you when you try to grip, lift, or carry stuff. Despite its name, it rarely has anything to do with playing tennis since it is a common occurrence even to those who don’t play the sport.
Tennis elbow is the layman term for lateral elbow tendinopathy. It’s also referred to as lateral epicondylitis, lateral epicondylosis, lateral epicondylalgia, common extensor origin tendinopathy, and more. Whatever you call it, it is a condition that can get worse if not given immediate attention.
What Tendons Do and How They Get Irritated
The primary purpose of tendons is to attach muscles to bone. Most muscles on the back of your hands, wrists, and forearms are connected to a common tendon outside the elbow, the lateral epicondyle. It is the source of the pain in lateral elbow tendinopathy, which you can feel when you grip, lift, or carry things. That is because the tendon attachment is put to work.
Most tendon problems begin without any obvious trauma or accident. The same goes for lateral elbow tendinopathy, which usually occurs after a mismatch between the load placed on the tendon compared with the load it can consistently carry.
The sudden increase in load may be from chopping logs, starting a new workout at the gym, or other strenuous physical activity. It may also result from resuming normal activities but following a period of relative deconditioning.
If you’ve stopped doing a particular physical activity for some time and suddenly resumed, it might lead to tennis elbow. But it may also be a gradual build-up of a change in your job or workstation over several weeks or months.
How to Recover from Tennis Elbow
The faster you deal with an irritated tendon, the earlier you can recover. Managing lateral elbow tendinopathy follows the same stages of healing as any other tendon problem:
You should temporarily modify your physical activities so the tendon does not get more irritated and has the proper time to settle down.
You should address any underlying individual biomechanical issues. Also, determine the amount of load you can tolerate without causing increased pain, then use that as your starting point to work higher.
Strengthening can be done by gradually increasing resistance to the exercises. You may strategically progress the type and amount of load you carry until you can work towards your personal goal.
Gradually returning to the load you were used to but in much better conditions to prevent another tennis elbow is the last stage of the process. You should not suddenly force your elbows to carry the same load that caused irritated tendons in the first place without gradually working towards it.
Lateral elbow tendinopathy may happen even when you’re just working out and carried a load you weren’t used to before. You mustn’t try to over-exert your elbows to prevent developing tennis elbow. So if you’re trying to build the load you can carry, it’s best to build your way up gradually.
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