How is Tennis Elbow Diagnosed?
Tennis elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis - is a very painful condition of the elbow resulting from elbow overuse. It is no surprise that you can get this problem from playing tennis or any other racquet sports. However, other activities can put you at risk for tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow is a result of inflammation of the tendons joining your forearm muscles to the outside of your elbow. As a result of overuse, the tendons and muscles become damaged. Eventually, this damage causes tenderness and pain on the outside of the elbow.
Tennis elbow is a condition which can be treated upon its diagnosis. To provide the most effective care for this condition, a team of health specialists work together to diagonise this condition.
Your Doctor's Examination
In diagnosing tennis elbow, your doctor may consider many factors. These factors include:
- Your sports participation
- How your signs and symptoms developed
- Your occupation risk factors
Signs and Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
The signs and symptoms of tennis elbow develop slowly. The pain mostly begins mild and worsens slowly within weeks or months. Before the start of these symptoms, no injury is involved.
The major signs and symptoms for tennis elbow are:
- Weakening of grip
- Sharp, burning pain on your outer elbow
The above signs and symptoms get worse when involved in any arm activities such as hand shaking and racquet holding.
Occupational Activities Causing Tennis Elbow
During tennis elbow diagnosis, the doctor will consider asking questions about the activities leading to your symptoms and the position of your arm where the symptoms occur. You should be ready to let your doctor know whether you have an history of nerve problems or rheumatoid arthritis. The risk factors leading to tennis elbow include:
- Recreational sport activities such as athletics
- Elbow overuse
- Unknown or insidious factors
Tests for Tennis Elbow
During your tennis elbow diagnosis, your physician may use various test to specify the condition. For example, you may be asked to straighten your fingers and wrist against the resistance of your fully straight arm. If there is any pain while doing this, your muscles are unhealthy.
Your doctor may also consider other test to rule out other causes for your muscle problems. These tests include:
X-ray test for tennis elbow will provide your doctor with clear images of dense structures resembling bones. X-ray images are taken to help rule out other elbow conditions, such as arthritis.
2. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a scan that shows details of soft tissues and is mostly used to diagnose arthritis or a herniated disk on your neck. This is because neck arthritis and herniated disks often cause elbow pains. The doctor may opt for an MRI scan if your symptoms are closely related to those of a neck problem.
3. Electromyography (EMG).
Your doctor may recommended for an electromyography to help rule out a condition such as nerve compression. This is because many body nerves travel around the elbow and nerve compression signs symptoms are almost similar to those of tennis elbow.
The Bottom Line
Tennis elbow can be a very painful condition if not taken care of. Since tennis elbow is related to other elbow problems, its diagnosis is recommended before treatment. Diagnosis of tennis elbow is complex, but it becomes simple upon understanding of its symptoms and the risk factors associated with it.