Tennis Elbow – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain on the outside of the elbow. This condition is referred to as lateral epicondylitis in medical terms.
Tennis elbow is common in people who play a lot of tennis or other racket sports. People between 35 to 54 years old are commonly affected.
What causes tennis elbow?
Repeated wrist and arm motions cause tennis elbow. When you use these muscles over and over again, small tears develop in the tendon. Tendon is a connective tissue that attaches muscles to the bone. Over time, this leads to irritation and pain where the tendon is attached to the bone.
Any activity that involves repetitive twisting of the wrist can cause this condition. Constant computer keyboard and mouse use may also cause this condition.
Sometimes, there is no known cause of tennis elbow.
What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?
The following are the symptoms of tennis elbow:
- Elbow pain that gets worse over time
- Pain that radiates from the outside of the elbow to the forearm and back of the hand when grasping or twisting
- Weak grasp
How is tennis elbow diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a physical examination and review your symptoms. The exam may show pain or tenderness when the tendon is gently pressed near where it attaches to the upper arm bone, over the outside of the elbow. It may also show pain near the elbow when the wrist is bent backward against resistance.
Your doctor may order an MRI to confirm the diagnosis of SLE.
How is tennis elbow treated?
Your doctor will recommend resting your arm for 2 or 3 weeks and avoiding or modifying the activity that causes your symptoms. He/she may also recommend to:
- Put ice on the outside of your elbow 2 to 3 times a day.
- Take NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin.
Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist, who can teach you some exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles of your forearm.
He/she may recommend you to buy a night splint (a special brace) for tennis elbow. This is available at most drugstores. It wraps around the upper part of your forearm and takes some of the pressure off the muscles.
Your doctor may also inject cortisone and a numbing medicine around the area where the tendon attaches to the bone. This helps decrease the swelling and pain.
Your doctor may recommend surgery if the pain continues after six months of rest and treatment.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.