Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a painful condition that affects the outside of the elbow where the wrist extensor tendons attach. Despite its name, this condition affects far more than athletes. People whose work requires certain repetitive arm motions can also develop it. These include plumbers, painters, carpenters, mechanics, and people who use computer mice.
This condition involves muscle strain caused by overuse. When the forearm muscles are repeatedly contracted during particular motions, it can lead to micro-tears in the tendons that join the muscles to the lateral epicondyle – the bony prominence on the outside of the elbow. Eventually, pathologic and painful scar tissue can form.
Tennis elbow is most common in people between 30 and 50. Poor technique, especially in backhand strokes, is a primary cause among tennis players.
Tennis elbow causes pain that may radiate from the outside of the elbow into the forearm and wrist. Over time, you may experience weakening of the grip.
Our board-certified doctor can diagnose this condition by maneuvering the elbow in a way that mimics the pain. He or she will also do a thorough physical examination and may use imaging to rule out arthritis, fracture, and other conditions.
Resting the affected elbow, applying ice packs, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers relieve symptoms for many. Physical therapy, bracing, and cortisone shots can also help. Outpatient surgery to repair the damaged tendon has a very high success rate if conservative treatment fails.
If you are experiencing pain or weakness as a result of tennis elbow, contact Orthopedic Specialists. Our board-certified, fellowship-trained doctors are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of all elbow conditions.