What is Tennis Elbow?
Lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, is an elbow injury that occurs as a result of the overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm and elbow. The pain associated with this condition affects the lateral epicondyle, the area where the tendons of the forearm connect with the bony outer portion of the elbow.
Causes of Tennis Elbow
The cause of tennis elbow is the repetitive movement, causing the muscle strain injury. This movement causes stress in the tissues resulting in tiny tears in the tendons. As suggested, tennis elbow may occur in tennis players or individuals who participate in certain athletic activities. This injury is not only limited to tennis players, but also people with jobs that involve repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. This could include the following professions:
- People in construction related trades
- Cutting ingredients, including meats
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
The symptoms of tennis elbow affect the inside of the elbow, and may include:
- Wrist extension causes pain
- Forearm weakness
- Pain that spreads from the outside of the elbow into the forearm and wrist
Pain may occur when performing even simple tasks such as turning a doorknob or shaking hands.
Diagnosis of Tennis Elbow
At Orthopedic Associates of Long Island, we diagnose tennis elbow through a physical examination of the arm and elbow, and a review the patient’s medical history. To assess pain, our providers may apply pressure to the elbow and ask the individual to move the arm, wrist and elbow in different ways. Additional diagnostic tests may include:
- MRI scan
These tests may be performed to rule out other conditions that may be responsible for causing elbow pain.
Treatment for Tennis Elbow
The initial pain caused by tennis elbow can often be managed with rest, ice and over-the-counter pain medication. In many cases, tennis elbow heals on its own. Cases of tennis elbow that do not respond to conservative measures may require additional treatment that may include:
- Physical therapy
- Forearm brace
Severe, persistent cases of tennis elbow may require surgery. Our providers will sit down with the patient, as surgical procedures may be necessary to remove damaged tissue, remove bone spurs or to split the tendons to alleviate pressure.