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Tennis Elbow

Pain on the outer side of your elbow? Learn about Tennis Elbow and how you get it (hint: doesn’t have to be tennis)

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Tennis Elbow

What is Tennis Elbow?

Stretch out your arm to your front or side. Now, bend your wrist back so that the palm of your hand is pointed away from you. The muscles you just used are called the extensor muscles, and they are in charge of pulling the wrist back. The extensor muscles join together to attach to tendons at the elbow. These tendons connect the muscles you just used to your lateral epicondyle, a bony bump on the lateral, or outside, part of your elbow.

Lateral epicondylitis, known commonly as tennis elbow, is a condition in which problems occur with the tendons connecting the extensor muscles and the lateral epicondyle. This causes pain in the area of the lateral epicondyle.

What causes Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is a painful condition caused by overuse of the elbow. This condition is often seen in people who play sports that require a racquet, like tennis, or other activities that involve repetitive use of the elbow, forearm, or wrist. This condition can also occur from trauma to the outside of the elbow or from the normal wear-and-tear that occurs with aging.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow. When the wrist is used, the pain increases. This can make everyday actions from brushing teeth to shaking hands a painful affair. Your physician will review your medical history and complete a physical exam in order to determine if you have this condition.

How is Tennis Elbow treated?

Often conservative treatment like rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication can help ease these symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe the use of a brace or splint, as well as a regimen of physical therapy exercises. Length of recovery time may depend on the patient's adherence to any physical therapy exercises prescribed. Most cases of lateral epicondylitis can be treated successfully with conservative treatments, but if these do not have any effect or the condition is especially severe, surgery may be necessary.