Tennis elbow

Tennis elbow

Elbow Condition

Tennis elbow​

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition of the elbow caused by overuse. Not surprisingly, playing tennis or other racquet sports can cause this condition. However, several other sports and activities can also put you at risk.

Lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, involves the muscles and tendons of your forearm. Your forearm muscles extend your wrist and fingers. Your forearm tendons — often called extensors — attach the muscles to bone. They attach on the lateral epicondyle. The tendon usually involved in tennis elbow is called the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB).

Causes

Overuse:  When the ECRB is weakened from overuse, microscopic tears form in the tendon where it attaches to the lateral epicondyle. This leads to inflammation and pain.

Activities: Athletes are not the only people who get tennis elbow. Many people with tennis elbow participate in work or recreational activities that require repetitive and vigorous use of the forearm muscle. Painters, plumbers, and carpenters are particularly prone to developing tennis elbow.

Age: Most people who get tennis elbow are between the ages of 30 and 50, although anyone can get tennis elbow if they have the risk factors.

Unknown: Lateral epicondylitis can occur without any recognized repetitive injury. This occurrence is called “insidious” or of an unknown cause.

Symptoms

The symptoms of tennis elbow develop gradually. There is usually no specific injury associated with the start of symptoms.

Common signs and symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Pain or burning on the outer part of your elbow
  • Weak grip strength

 
The symptoms are often worsened with forearm activity. Your dominant arm is most often affected; however both arms can be affected.

Treatment
  • Non-surgical treatment
  • Approximately 80% to 95% of patients have success with nonsurgical treatment.
Rest
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines.
  • Physical therapy
  • Arm brace
  • Steroid injections
Surgical treatment

If your symptoms do not respond after 6 to 12 months of nonsurgical treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery.

Most surgical procedures for tennis elbow involve removing diseased muscle and reattaching healthy muscle back to bone.

Open surgery: The most common approach to tennis elbow repair is open surgery. This involves making an incision over the elbow. Open surgery is usually performed as an outpatient surgery. It rarely requires an overnight stay at the hospital.

Arthroscopic surgery: Tennis elbow can also be repaired using miniature instruments and small incisions. Like open surgery, this is a same-day or outpatient procedure.

New developments

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is currently being investigated for its effectiveness in speeding the healing of a variety of tendon injuries. PRP is a preparation developed from a patient’s own blood. It contains a high concentration of proteins called growth factors that are very important in the healing of injuries.

Current research on PRP and lateral epicondylitis is very promising. However, this method is still under investigation and more research is necessary to fully prove PRP’s effectiveness.