What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis Elbow is also called Lateral Epicondylitis. It occurs when the tendons that are attached to a bony area of the elbow, called the lateral epicondyle(1), emit pain. It is unclear if symptoms occur from inflammation or degenerative tearing of the tendons.
Signs and Symptoms:
Any activity that requires repetitive motion of the wrist or forearm can cause pain to the outer side of the elbow, or tennis elbow. Pain may be constant or intermittent, often more severe in the morning, and may be quite intense. Aggravating factors like excessive twisting, grasping, squeezing or lifting heavy objects with the palm facing down can cause pain. Patients with tennis elbow may even find lifting a coffee cup to be intolerable.
Conservative treatment includes ice, rest and anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain. A tennis elbow strap and physical therapy may help reduce pain symptoms and increase strength and flexibility.
If symptoms persist and conservative treatment is not effective, surgery may be recommended to excise the extensor tendons and, possibly, the lateral epicondyle. After surgery, a bulky dressing and splint will be placed for about 10 days. This is replaced with a removable splint for about 4-6 weeks. Progressive motion and strengthening exercises may be prescribed.