Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
Tennis elbow is a painful overuse injury, with inflammation of the large tendons which attach the forearm muscles to the outer bony portion of the elbow, called the lateral epicondyle.
These tendons can be injured from repetitive motions of the forearm, such as using a manual screwdriver, washing windows, or hitting a backhand in tennis play. Repeated twisting motions or activities that strain the tendon typically elicit increased pain.
- Pain over the outside of the elbow, occasionally with warmth and swelling
- Local tenderness
- Full range of motion, as the inner joint is not affected
- Pain can be particularly noticed toward the end of the day
- X-rays are usually normal, but can reveal calcium deposits in the tendon or other unforeseen abnormalities of the elbow joint.
- Icing and resting the involved elbow
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Bracing the elbow
- Local cortisone injections for persistent pain
- Physical therapy
Activity involving the elbow is resumed gradually. Ice application after activity can reduce or prevent recurrent inflammation. Occasionally, supportive straps can prevent reinjury. In severe cases, an orthopedic surgical repair is performed.