Tennis Elbow

Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

Medically reviewed by Dr. James Tan

What Is Tennis Elbow?

It is a common type of ailment that doctors call an overuse injury. It often occurs with tennis plays who consistently grip their racquets too tightly. It is not exclusive to tennis players though and can affect anyone who makes repetitive movements in their work or free time. This can include baseball players, golfers, bowlers, fencers, or anyone else who plays any kind of racquet sport. It is also common with hobbies and professionals gardening, cooking, painting, cleaning, carpentry, and any type of factory work.

tennis elbow illustration
Image Credit: News Medical

How Does It Feel?

You will feel it on the outside of your elbow. This pain may even extend down into your forearm and your hand. The area of pain may range by severity level. In mild cases, you might feel discomfort only when you’re using it. In more severe cases, you might feel the pain even when you're at rest.

What Are the Main Causes of Tennis Elbow?

In your arm, you have tissues that connect your muscles to your bones called tendons. When these tendons become overwhelmed, they get inflamed. This can escalate to degradation and finally tearing.

When you repetitively use your forearm muscles, the tendons and muscles become sore from the excessive strains, which is the major cause of tennis elbow lateral epicondylitis. Sometimes, knocking and banging your elbow can also result in a Tennis Elbow. Tennis Elbow results in tendinitis, which causes the elbow's pain and inflammation. The overload of the tendon can lead to a degenerative condition called tendinosis. These conditions could end up with tears in the tendon, and pain in your hand and wrist.  

Some of the major causes of Tennis Elbow include: 

  • Using a too-short or tight tennis racket 
  • Poor backhand stroke 
  • Weak wrist muscles and shoulder 
  • Overusing the computer mouse and other plumbing tools 

The load is passed onto the tendon when your muscle gets tired from overuse. This will cause a condition called tendinitis, which causes inflammation and pain. If you continually overload the tendons, you can get a degenerative disease called tendinosis. When you are dealing with both tendinitis and tendinosis, you may have tears in your tendon. 

While most pain is caused by overuse, it can also be caused by an injury to your arm. 

What Are the Common Symptoms of Tennis Elbow?

Since it is caused by overuse or overexertion in sports, the symptoms will usually come on slowly. You will find that that pain has gotten worse over recent weeks and months.

A few telltale signs include:

  • Pain in your outer elbow
  • Discomfort that extends to your wrist
  • Aches that get worse at night
  • Pangs when you twist or bend your arm
  • Stiffness when you extend your arm
  • Swollen joint
  • It is tender to the touch
  • Your grip is weak

What's The Difference?

Olecranon Bursitis VS Tennis Elbow

Although both cause pain to your elbow joint due to overuse, Olecranon Bursitis and Tennis Elbow are two different conditions.

Olecranon Bursitis

Inflammation in the Bursa at the back of your elbow.

Tennis Elbow

Extensor tendons are inflamed or torn (including micro tears).

Where To Find Tennis Elbow Treatment in Singapore

This is the most common cause of pain, and it affects more than just tennis players. Known by doctors as lateral epicondylitis, this painful condition is caused by repetitive motions that weaken your muscles and can cause tears to the tendons. 

Fortunately, it is easily treated and rarely requires invasive treatment if you manage the problem early on. If you’ve been dealing with nagging pain from tennis elbow, now is the time to seek treatment.

The orthopaedic doctor here at Ray of Health will diagnose your issue and create a customised orthopaedic treatment plan to get you feeling like your own self again. We also treat other sports injuries like meniscus tears and rotator cuff injuries.

Why suffer in pain for another day? Reach out to us online, call +65 6235 8781, or chat with us on WhatsApp at +65 8028 4572. You can also talk to us by clicking the button below.

Locations

Camden Medical

1 Orchard Boulevard, #09-06

Singapore 248649

Mount Alvernia Hospital

820 Thomson Road

Medical Centre D #05-60

Singapore 574623

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How Do Doctors Check for Signs of Tennis Elbow?

When you come to our Singapore clinic, you can expect to get started with a physical examination. Our specialist will check for the swelling signs and pain in your elbow. For clear examination, doctors may recommend the following exams: 

Our elbow specialist will check for signs of swelling and ask you about the symptoms of stiffness and pain you have been feeling. 

To take a closer look, your doctor may recommend one of the following exams. 

  • X-rays: This will confirm it is tennis elbow and not arthritis or a fracture.
  • MRI or CT: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans are used to take a clearer look at the damage to your tendons and muscles.
  • EMG: An electromyography (EMG) test can measure your nerve's electrical activity and look for compressed nerves.

What are the Common Treatments for Tennis Elbow?

What is the fastest cure? Let’s look at a few of the most common steps that your doctor may recommend.

  • Rest: This is the first step. Your tendons need a few weeks to heal.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen will help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Support brace: Wearing a removable support brace can be helpful for taking the stress off of your tendons and muscles while they heal.
  • Physical therapy: Strategic exercises can help you build up the muscles of your forearm and build up your grip strength again. Physiotherapy is also especially helpful for conditions like knee arthritis.
  • Massage: Focused massage can help to reduce pain while improving your range of motion.
  • Steroid injections: For more severe cases, corticosteroids may be recommended to relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Shockwave therapy

Depending on the severity, your doctor may recommend any of these or a range of additional more intensive tennis elbow treatments.

Treating Tennis Elbow at Home

We often get questions about home treatment to relive tennis elbow pain. While it is essential to remember that you need to get examined by a professional, some natural cures can help with mild cases.

Light exercises are also beneficial for reducing the swelling and helping the mobility.  

Your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen 

You may also consider doing light exercises at home to reduce swelling and improve mobility. 

In addition to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen, your doctor may recommend a range of other at-home remedies like rest and over-the-counter medication. 

Is Hot or Cold Better?

During the early stages of an injury, it is best to opt for cold treatment. It will help to reduce inflammation. While it is uncomfortable at first, it will reduce the pain.

Remember, if your pain is getting worse with time despite rest and applying ice, it is time to see a doctor. Once your issue has been diagnosed and other potential problems have been eliminated, your doctor may recommend regular heat treatment for chronic pain.

Is Deep Heat Good?

Deep Heat works in a similar way to applying a hot compress. If you’re dealing with long-term pain, this can be a good solution. Keep in mind, however, that it’s not right for everyone. Chat with your medical specialists before starting a regular routine at homecare.

Is Tiger Balm Suitable?

Like Deep Heat, products like Tiger Balm can help to warm up the area in a similar way to a hot compress. This can be great for occasional pain but it’s important not to overuse it. If the pain persists, it’s time to see an elbow specialist to find other solutions.

Exercises To Help Relieve Tennis Elbow Pain

Check out this video below for effective stretching exercises that can help relieve your injury.

Frequently-Asked Questions About Tennis Elbow in Singapore

Your lateral tendon is affected, which is the outer part of your elbow. In contrast, the golfer’s elbow affects the inner part of the epicondyle tendon.  

If you have a golfer’s elbow, you will feel a pain that travels down your arm. It’s common to feel numb in your fingers with a golfer’s elbow. Our specialist at Ray of Heath can help you easy this treatable health condition. 

 It is common to feel a tingling or numbness in your fingers with a golfer’s elbow. 

Our golfer's elbow doctors at Ray of Health can help you manage and improve your pain. 

About the Author

Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

Dr James Tan C H

Dr James Tan is a highly skilled orthopaedic surgeon in Singapore who has more than 10 years of experience in sports injury surgery and exercise medicine. Apart from partnering with the industry to pioneer advanced and proven treatment techniques, Dr Tan has treated athletes from the Singapore National Teams and professional footballers from the Singapore Premier League and the Young Lions. He is a member of the elite Asian Shoulder and Elbow Group and a founding member of the Singapore Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Society.