Lateral epicondylitis is an inflammation of the insertions of the extensor muscles of the forearm, due to monotonous monotonous movements. It affects people of active age, between 30-50 years old and is equally common among both sexes. Epicondylitis, also called insertionitis, occurs as a result of overload and leads to degenerative dystrophic changes in the insertion (attachment sites) of the forearm muscles located in the area of the epocondyles of the humerus. When the insertions of the extensor muscles located on the outside of the forearm and elbow are affected, we speak of the so-called “tennis elbow”, and when the muscles on the inside of the forearm and elbow are affected – the “golf elbow”. Tennis elbow occurs more often and involves people practicing the following professions: painters, carpenters, plumbers, drivers, as well as poorly trained technically active athletes, often ignoring the rule of gradual load. The risk group also includes people who use a computer on a daily basis, which leads to microtrauma caused by the monotonous and numerous mouse clicks.
Symptoms of lateral epicondylitis
Lateral epicondylitis begins gradually and progresses slowly. In the beginning, the complaints consist of fatigue, tension in the elbow joint and muscle weakness after exercise, and subsides at rest. As the process progresses, the pain and discomfort spread down to the fingers, which negatively affects the wrist joint and affects the fine motor skills of the fingers. Weakness of the hand grip is characteristic. Patients often drop objects. The symptoms adversely affect the shoulder joint, thus gradually affecting the entire upper limb. The function of the elbow joint, which makes it possible to specify the height and length of the upper limb, deteriorates. The pain begins to persist at rest. This can lead to disturbances in the quality of sleep, and hence the general condition.
The elbow joint is complex and sensitive to injuries and overloads. Damage to any segment of the elbow complex leads to disruption of the others due to their close location. Therefore, a precise diagnosis by an orthopedist is needed. The review includes:
- history of the problem and its dynamics.
- examination: watch for signs of inflammation – swelling, pain, heat, change in the skin contour.
- palpation – there is a restriction in terms of active and passive range of motion in the joint. In rare cases, they are affected. But the rotation of the hand and the movements in the wrist are painful, and the strength of the grips is significantly reduced.
- radiography – is not a sufficiently informative method, but could exclude other pathologies in the field.
- sonography and magnetic resonance imaging give the highest information about the condition of soft tissues.
Treatment is often conservative, with physiotherapy and rehabilitation taking center stage. They aim to control the inflammatory process, improve the condition of the tissues by increasing blood and lymph circulation, improve the slipperiness of the tissues and ensure proper joint arthrokinematics. Recovery progresses with work on muscle strength and return to optimal activity of the entire upper limb.
- When possible, avoid monotonous, monotonous prolonged movements that lead to microtrauma.
- Microtraumas are the result of overload. If the load is followed by immobilization and rest, the function of the affected motor segment can only deteriorate. If possible, avoid immobilization.
- Prolonged and prolonged use of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs will adversely affect your liver, kidneys and stomach and can only suppress pain symptoms.
- Be aware that anti-inflammatory corticosteroid injections have a good analgesic effect, but cause destructive changes in the joint.
- Doctors often do not refer their patients to physio-kinesitherapy. This does not prevent you from seeking their help, but until then, cool your hand and do a slight stretching of the muscles of the forearm.