Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in your elbow are overloaded, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm.
Despite its name, athletes aren’t the only people who develop tennis elbow. People whose jobs feature the types of motions that can lead to tennis elbow include plumbers, painters, carpenters and butchers.
The pain of tennis elbow occurs primarily where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow. Pain can also spread into your forearm and wrist.
Rest and over-the-counter pain relievers often help relieve tennis elbow. If conservative treatments don’t help or if symptoms are disabling, your doctor might suggest surgery.
The pain associated with tennis elbow may radiate from the outside of your elbow into your forearm and wrist. Pain and weakness may make it difficult to:
- Shake hands or grip an object
- Turn a doorknob
- Hold a coffee cup
Tennis elbow is an overuse and muscle strain injury. The cause is repeated contraction of the forearm muscles that you use to straighten and raise your hand and wrist. The repeated motions and stress to the tissue may result in a series of tiny tears in the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the bony prominence at the outside of your elbow.
As the name suggests, playing tennis â€” especially repeated use of the backhand stroke with poor technique â€” is one possible cause of tennis elbow. However, many other common arm motions can cause tennis elbow, including:
- Using plumbing tools
- Driving screws
- Cutting up cooking ingredients, particularly meat
- Repetitive computer mouse use
Typically, a review of the patient’s history and a physical examination with specific orthopedic tests such as the Chair Test, Thompson Test, Mill Test and/or Cozen Test is usually enough to make an accurate diagnosis. However, if symptoms are persistent with treatment or if we believe there may be another cause for your symptoms, diagnostic imaging may be required.
There are several treatment options and protocols which would be discussed with the patient and the best treatment protocol for the patient will be chosen between the patient and practitioner. All treatments will involve finding the cause of the injury and aiding to reduce the causation as well as home therapeutic exercise programs will be prescribed.
Treatment Options and Protocols
* Taping or Bracing Techniques, Cupping and/or scraping, may be prescribed in addition to the above treatment protocols.
There is no “Best” treatment option for everyone. The best treatment option and protocol will be decided based on the patient’s history, availability of the patient, physical examination and stage of condition.
It should be noted that we have a higher success rate at 91 to 93% when combining therapies as opposed to one treatment alone.
If you believe you are suffering pain due to tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) contact us to schedule a consultation with me and we will figure out what is best for you and your condition.
– Spencer Jean, DO, DO(MP), MBA