Lateral epicondylitis is a painful condition of the elbow typically caused by overuse. This condition is more commonly referred to as tennis elbow as it is often the result of playing tennis or other racquet sports. Tennis elbow is not exclusively for tennis players, however, as there are several other sports and activities that can also put one at risk.
Tennis Elbow Causes
Tennis elbow is a condition that is caused by overuse and muscle strain. Repeated contraction of the forearm muscles that are used to straighten and raise the hand and wrist lead to this painful condition. Repeated motion and stress to the tissue may result in a series of tiny tears in the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the bony prominence on the outside of the elbow.
Tennis Elbow Symptoms
Most people with tennis elbow experience gradually developing symptoms, including:
- Pain that is initially mild, and slowly worsens over time
- Pain or burning on the outer area of the elbow
- Noticeably weakened grip when shaking hands, turning a doorknob, and similar actions
Tennis Elbow Treatment
Upon examination, your doctor will consider a number of factors in making a diagnosis, including medical history and activities. In some cases, an X-ray or image testing may be used to rule out other potential problems before the diagnosis of tennis elbow is made.
While tennis elbow often gets better on its own, sometimes pain medication or physical therapy may be needed to facilitate healing. Severe and persistent cases may eventually require surgery. Before that point, nonsurgical treatment options are usually applied, which may include:
- Rest - this typically requires the suspension of sports or heavy work activities
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication - Aspirin or ibuprofen may be recommended for pain and swelling
- Cortisone injections - May be give to control pain and swelling
- Physical therapy - specific exercises may strengthen the forearm, and treatments such as ultrasound, ice massage, or muscle stimulation also be used
- Brace - A brace centered over the back of the forearm may be worn to provide stability and help relieve symptoms of tennis elbow
If you suspect that you may have tennis elbow, contact us today to schedule an appointment. We will provide a thorough and comprehensive evaluation and prescribe the best course of treatment for you.