Tennis Elbow

 

What is tennis elbow?

 

“Tennis elbow”, or lateral epiconylitis, is caused by overuse and irritation of the attachment at the elbow of the muscles that extend the wrist and fingers.  Degeneration or tearing of the tendon attachment at the lateral epicondyle can cause pain and swelling.

 

What are the symptoms of lateral epicondylitis?

 

Symptoms may include pain or an inability to fully extend the elbow, tenderness along the outside of your elbow or pain with extending your fingers or wrist.  Most commonly it occurs in your dominant arm.

 

How do you diagnose lateral epicondylitis?

 

Tennis elbow is usually diagnosed by physical exam.  Sometimes an X-ray is needed to rule out other causes of pain.  It is important to see a physician so the proper diagnosis can be made since many other conditions may cause pain around the elbow.

 

How do you treat lateral epicondylitis?

 

Generally, tennis elbow is an overuse injury, so activity modification and rest are the first step in treatment.  Ice and anti-inflammatory medication is also used.  In some cases, a counter-force brace or strap on your forearm can help limit the muscle force transmitted to the lateral epicondyle.  As the pain improves, a gentle stretching program should be initiated.  A cortisone injection may be helpful for symptoms that do not improve.  Rarely, a surgery is needed.

 

How do you prevent lateral epicondylitis?

 

Most of the time lateral epicondylitis is an overuse injury.  Using proper technique and equipment while also not over-doing your exercise routine is important.  Maintaining your flexibility and stretching will also reduce your risk of injury.

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© 2020 - Yasmin Dhar, M.D., Sports Medicine and Arthroscopic Surgery

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