Tennis Elbow: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

In this injury spotlight, Dr. Travis Owens defines Tennis Elbow, also known as Lateral Epicondylitis, and discusses its causes and symptoms. He also demonstrates some active care techniques to help prevent Tennis Elbow symptoms. Learn more about Airrosti’s results here.

Lateral Epicondylitis

Tennis elbow is a common term for a condition caused by overuse of arm, forearm, and hand muscles that results in elbow pain. You don’t have to play tennis to get this, but the term came into use because it can be a significant problem for some tennis players. Tennis elbow affects 1% to 3% of the population overall and as many as 50% of tennis players during their careers. Less than 5% of all tennis elbow diagnoses are related to actually playing tennis.

Tennis elbow is caused by either abrupt or subtle injury of the muscle and tendon area around the outside of the elbow. Tennis elbow specifically involves the area where the muscles and tendons of the forearm attach to the outside bony area (called the lateral epicondyle) of the elbow. Your doctor may call this condition lateral epicondylitis. Another common term, “golfer’s elbow,” refers to the same process occurring on the inside of the elbow (what your doctor may call medial epicondylitis). Overuse injury can also affect the back or posterior part of the elbow as well.

Usually, the pain is on the outside of the elbow and might be accompanied by warmth and swelling. The elbow maintains its full range of motion, as the inner joint is not affected, and the pain is usually more noticeable toward the end of the day. Repeated twisting motions or activities that strain the tendon typically cause more pain.

Tennis elbow affects men more than women. It most often affects people between the ages of 30 and 50, although people of any age can be affected. Although tennis elbow commonly affects tennis players, it also affects other athletes and people who participate in leisure or work activities that require repetitive arm, elbow, wrist, and hand movement, especially while tightly gripping something. Examples include golfers, baseball players, bowlers, landscapers, carpenters, mechanics, and assembly-line workers.

Traditional Treatment Options

Tennis elbow is usually treated with a combination of physical therapy, icing, resting the injured elbow (sometimes using forearm bracing to rest the tendons). Topical anti-inflammatory gels, topical cortisone gels, and cortisone injections are also commonly used to treat this injury.

Tennis elbow treatment is most often successful. However, the most important element in traditional care is tendon rest. Depending on the severity of your condition is, you may need to rest your tendon for weeks to months. This injury can take from 6 months to 12 months to fully heal. There are cases of pain persisting for more than a year.

Many individuals suffering with tennis elbow seek Airrosti care as an alternative to long periods of rest and inactivity. Airrosti can help dramatically speed recovery and provide immediate pain relief, without drugs or injections. Most patients are able to return to normal activity within only 1 to 3 visits, based on patient-reported outcomes.

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