You have certainly heard the term tennis elbow before. It raises the assumption that sufferers contract these complaints during sporting activity. But this is hardly true nowadays. Rather, tennis elbow has evolved into mouse arm, and is now sometimes described as such. The strain on the computer with the mouse or the touchpad causes this pain.

What exactly is behind it and what you can do against it, we would like to show you in this article.

What exactly is tennis elbow?

This problem belongs to the Repetitive Strain Injury Syndrome (RSI Syndrome). Means, the disease is caused by repetitive strain. Tennis elbow is a tendon insertion irritation of the extensor muscles of the forearm, which originate at the epicondylus radialis, i.e. the outer knuckle of the upper arm. Overuse causes micro-injuries that trigger an inflammatory process.

The body gradually reacts with increasing pain, and in worse cases also with swelling of the affected area. These not only remain local in the area of origin, but can also move along the course of the muscle towards the hand. The further the inflammatory process progresses, the more severe the complaints become. It can even lead to a noticeable loss of strength, so that those affected are no longer able to open a bottle or hold a full glass of water. Even shaking hands can be painful.

Overuse of the forearm muscles is often preceded by tension in the shoulder and neck area. Due to a permanently increased tone, which continues downward into the arm, there is a constant tension of the tendon structures, which are finally overloaded and trigger the reaction chain.

This is why tennis elbow today is more like mouse arm. The increasing work at the computer particularly promotes tension in the shoulder-neck area. In addition, the use of a mouse, usually always with the same hand, is another strain. As a result, many office workers are familiar with this painful condition.

Conservative therapy

Immobilization in a cast, as it was common in the past, should be avoided at all costs. The consequences are rapid muscle atrophy and additional loss of strength, which does not positively influence the course of healing. However, the affected arm should still be spared. Means triggering factors and loads should be avoided if possible. If sport is really the trigger of the problems, it should be absolutely paused.

If, however, the cause is work at the PC, it is of course more difficult to take it easy. Here, however, it can help to optimize the workplace. This includes things like the correct sitting position, or even switching from a conventional mouse to a vertical mouse. This can be operated in a similar way to a joystick and is easier on the irritated muscles due to the changed position of the hand.

Treatment by a physiotherapist using transverse massage and electrotherapy is also advisable. In addition, cooling can soothe the inflamed area.

What exercises are helpful?

In addition to the above measures, loosening of the tense tissue is necessary. Both in the directly affected area, but also further up in the shoulder-neck area.

Regularly loosen your shoulders while working and remember to keep an upright posture. Circle your shoulders, tilt your head to the side to stretch the lateral neck muscles, or bring your shoulders up and back down in a controlled manner.

To do this, it can be useful to set yourself a timer to keep reminding yourself to straighten up in between. You can also use another signal to condition yourself. For example, the phone ringing. Every time the phone rings, briefly relax your shoulders and sit up straight before answering it. This prevents you from staying in a bad posture for too long and regularly mobilizes your torso.

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You can also stretch your forearm muscles. To do this, extend your arm so that your elbow joint is fully extended and the underside of your arm is pointing upwards. Then pull your hand down with your fingers extended. To reinforce, you can pull your fingers further in with the other hand. In this position, stretch the underside of the forearm muscles.

If you bring your hand in the opposite direction with the arm extended, i.e. so that the top of the forearm points upwards and you pull the hand down as far as possible, you stretch the top of the forearm muscles. Again, the other hand can reinforce the pull.

How can you use the Backrelease?

Already at the beginning of tension it makes sense to work specifically against it. In the best case, you can prevent worse complaints from developing in the first place.

Thanks to the different attachments of the Backrelease, you can also work the narrower area of the forearm muscles very well. Take the base and the smaller attachment and target the tense muscle sections. The treatment stimulates the blood circulation locally and promotes the regeneration of the muscles.

You can also work with the Backrelease in the shoulder-neck area. Here, the trapezius muscle in particular is predestined for tension. Thanks to the good handling of the base, you can also treat the area on top of the shoulders, where you would otherwise have problems with the fascia roller or the lacrosse ball.

If possible, release tension and adhesions right at the beginning, so that you are spared further painful inflammations!

Laura, physical therapist for ten years