Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
What is it?
Elbow pain caused by overuse of the arm and forearm muscles that injures the muscle and tendon area around the outside of the elbow. Because of overuse, the tendon suffers slight tears that become inflamed. The difference between tennis elbow and golfer's elbow is that tennis elbow affects the outer side of the elbow, while golfer's elbow affects the inner side.
Causes, Symptoms and Risk Factors
People do not need to be tennis players in order to get tennis elbow. In fact, 95 percent of all tennis elbow diagnoses are not caused by playing tennis. It also affects other athletes and people who participate in activities that require repetitive arm motions, such as golfers, bowlers, gardeners and carpenters.
Tennis elbow affects men more than women, and most often occurs between the ages of 30 and 50. Tennis elbow most commonly affects people in their dominant arm (that is, a right-handed person would experience pain in the right arm). Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain that:
- Is on the outside of the elbow
- Causes stiffness in the elbow
- Prevents straightening of the arm
- Is worse when shaking hands or squeezing objects
- Weakens the grip
Tennis elbow cannot be diagnosed from blood tests and rarely by x-rays, although the doctor may do the latter to rule out other conditions, such as a fracture or arthritis. Instead, the doctor will conduct a physical examination and review the symptoms with the patient.
Treatments may include:
- Resting the elbow
- Icing the elbow
- Wrapping the elbow in an elastic bandage
- Taking non-prescription pain relievers
- Receiving a cortisone injection to reduce persistent pain and swelling