"Tennis Elbow" is named after the sport, but it turns out that is not the sole domain of tennis players. In fact – even if you have never lifted a tennis racquet, you might still be exposed to this condition.
Dr. Alon Covo, an orthopedist and expert for palm surgery and micro-surgery, explains: "the Tennis Elbow phenomenon is the result of changes to the elbow following repeated activity leading to a chronic inflammation on the outer side of the elbow. The phenomenon might simmer for several months, and then, if left untreated, the inflamed tendon loses the ability to renew and heal itself".
How do we know when to consult a physician?
"The main complaint of people suffering from an inflammation of this type is pain in the elbow's region, mainly in lifting motions, even the simplest day-to-day motions such as lifting a kettle or cup. In many cases the patient does not see the pain as significant and delays the visit to the doctor, until it is too late and the inflammation spirals out of control".
Who is at risk to develop the inflammation?
"Despite its name, the phenomenon is less common among professional tennis players, because these people are aware of the problem, are under medical observation and alert the professional team when the initial pain appears. The most vulnerable people to Tennis Elbow are people who lift, for example, heavy hammers or drills on a regular basis, but also people who work for long hours with a computer, such as in typing or in the high-tech industry. The latter do not give much importance to the pain until it is too late".
How do you treat Tennis Elbow?
"Initially we would give anti-inflammatory pills combined with physical therapy and splints reducing the load on the involved tendons. The next stage is cortisone injection and after that, if the other treatments prove ineffective – surgery.
What does the surgery involve?
"Because the inflammation causes irreversible damage to the tendons, and especially to the short extensor tendon of the wrist. In surgery we will identify the injured tendon tissue and remove it. This way we will allow the body to regenerate the tendon. The surgery itself is with relatively high success rates but still it is important to understand that this is an operation under full anesthesia, which will leave behind a relatively large scar. Additionally, the post-operation process is accompanied by physical therapy and occupational therapy, and even a cast, until the return of fully functions within 4-6 months from the operation. Therefore it is important, of course, to pay attention to the pain from its beginning, not to neglect it, and to consult a physician for diagnosis
Dr. Alon Covo