Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that affects not just athletes, but anyone who performs repetitive motions of the wrist, forearm, or elbow. It is caused by inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of your elbow, usually from overuse.
The elbow is made up of three long bones, the humerus above and the ulna and radius below. There are bony bumps at the end of the humerus called epicondyles. The one on the thumb side of the elbow is the lateral epicondyle and the other is called the medial epicondyle. Tendons attach the wrist extensor muscles to the lateral epicondyle. The most commonly involved muscle is the extensor carpi radialis brevis, which helps stabilize the wrist when the elbow is straight, such as a tennis player performing a backhand stroke. Other activities that can cause this overuse injury are:
- Cutting ingredients for cooking
- Repetitive wrench or screwdriver use
- Computer mouse use
When done repetitively, these motions can cause micro-tears in the tendons at the lateral epicondyle, causing inflammation and pain. Symptoms of lateral epicondylitis include:
- Pain or burning on the outside of your elbow
- Grip weakness
These symptoms are usually worse with wrist and forearm use, such as shaking hands or any of the activities that can cause the micro-tears listed above. Your dominant arm is more commonly affected, but it can happen in either or even both arms.
Your doctor will most likely prescribe physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, and equipment modification. If symptoms persist longer than 6 to 8 months with non-invasive treatment, your doctor may suggest surgical intervention.
If you are having pain in your elbow or have been diagnosed with tennis elbow, please come see us for a free consultation to see how we can assist you in your recovery. To request an appointment, click here, or call directly to one of our three locations during regular business hours:
Cool Springs: 615-224-9810
Spring Hill: 931-489-2022