What is lateral epicondylitis?
Lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, is characterized by pain on the outside (lateral side) of the elbow. The pain is caused by damage to the tendons that bend the wrist backward away from the palm. A tendon is a tough cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones. The tendon most likely involved in tennis elbow is called the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB), and this condition is usually diagnosed in both men and women between the ages of 30 to 50 years.
What causes tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow, as the name implies, often is caused by the force of the tennis racket hitting balls in the backhand position. The forearm muscles, which attach to the outside of the elbow, may become sore from excessive strain. When making a backhand stroke in tennis, the tendons that roll over the end of the elbow can become damaged. Tennis elbow may be caused by the following:
- improper backhand stroke
- weak shoulder and wrist muscles
- using a too tightly strung or too short tennis racket, such as racquetball or squash
- using repeated hand motions in various professions–meat cutters, musicians, dentists, and carpenters
- hitting the ball off center on the racket or hitting heavy, wet balls
- painting with a brush or roller
- operating a chain saw
- frequent use of other hand tools on a continuous basis
Treatment for tennis elbow:
Specific treatment for tennis elbow will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the condition
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, and therapies
- expectation for the course of the condition
- your opinion or preference
Treatment for tennis elbow includes stopping the activity that produces the symptoms. Treatment may include:
- ice pack application (to reduce inflammation)
- strengthening exercises
- anti-inflammatory medications
- corticosteroid injections