Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is an elbow injury that occurs as a result of overuse, most commonly from playing tennis. The pain associated with this condition affects the lateral epicondyle, the area where the forearms’ tendons connect with the bony outer portion of the elbow. While tennis elbow typically affects adults aged 30 to 50, anyone who continually stresses their wrists is at a higher risk of developing this condition.
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
The symptoms of tennis elbow affect the inside of the elbow, and may include some of the following:
- Forearm weakness
- Pain when the wrist is extended
- Pain during various activities, such as turning a doorknob
- Pain that spreads from the outside of the elbow into the forearm and wrist
Diagnosing Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is usually diagnosed by examining the affected elbow and reviewing the patient’s medical history. To assess pain, pressure may be applied to the elbow. In some cases, x-rays may be done to rule out other conditions that may be responsible for causing elbow pain.
Treatment for Tennis Elbow
In many cases, tennis elbow heals on its own within two years. Initial pain can often be managed with rest, ice and over-the-counter painkillers. Cases that don’t respond to the aforementioned measures may require additional treatment, in the form of exercises, orthotics, or corticosteroids. Severe, persistent cases of tennis elbow may require surgery; however, surgery is only necessary for about ten percent of those suffering from tennis elbow. Your doctor will develop a customized treatment plan based on your individual condition.
Preventing Tennis Elbow
To prevent tennis elbow from occurring, certain preventive measures can be taken. Individuals participating in sports should train sufficiently beforehand to strengthen the muscles around the elbow and wrist. It is important to keep the wrist straight during all lifting activities, including weightlifting, so that the stronger muscles of the upper arm do most of the work. Stretching exercises before and after use of the wrist can also minimize the occurrence of tennis elbow.