Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Join Airrosti’s Caitlin Jones, DC as she goes over everything you need to know about tennis elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis). She discusses the symptoms associated with this common injury as well as everyday treatment methods. She also explains how Airrosti’s approach to treating this injury allows patients to take control of their recovery plan.

WHAT IS TENNIS ELBOW (LATERAL EPICONDYLITIS)?

guy holding a tennis racket rubbing his elbow

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 injury, 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.

Tennis elbow is caused by either abrupt or subtle injury of the muscle and tendon area around the outside of the elbow. This injury 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. 

Tennis elbow is similar to another condition called golfer’s elbow, which affects the tendons on the inside of the elbow. Your doctor may call this condition medial epicondylitis.

What causes tennis elbow?

This condition specifically involves the lateral epicondyle, the part of the elbow where the muscles and tendons attach to the outside bony part of the elbow. 

The extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) muscle helps stabilize the wrist when the elbow is straight. When the ECRB is weakened from overuse, small tears form in the tendon where it attaches to the lateral epicondyle. This leads to inflammation and pain in the elbow joint.

what are the risk factors?

senior woman with elbow pain

Lateral Epicondylitis is the most common reason that people see their doctors for elbow pain. While it is most common in people between the ages of 30 and 50, people can develop tennis elbow at any age. It also tends to affect men more than women.

This condition often impacts tennis players, athletes in racquet sports, and people who participate in leisure or work activities that require repetitive arm, elbow, wrist, and hand movements. Examples include golfers, baseball players, bowlers, landscapers, carpenters, and mechanics.

what are the symptoms of tennis elbow?

The most common signs of tennis elbow include swelling and pain on the outside of the elbow. The pain is more likely to be present when gripping an object, opening a door, or raising your hand above your head.

Other signs of lateral epicondylitis include:

  • Weak grip strength
  • A painful burning sensation on the outside of the elbow
  • Pain that becomes more noticeable towards the end of the day
  • Increased pain with repeated twisting motions or activities that strain the tendon

Usually, the pain is on the outside of the elbow and might be accompanied by warmth and swelling. The elbow may maintain its full range of motion, as the inner joint is not affected.

traditional tennis elbow treatment options

young woman with elbow pain

To diagnose the source of your injury, your doctor will perform a thorough exam. They may also request imaging tests to diagnose the condition or rule out more serious injuries.

 

To treat tennis elbow, your doctor may suggest a variety of non-invasive options before considering injections or surgery. This injury often responds well to conservative care, including physical therapy, icing, pain medications, and rest. In some cases, a forearm brace is used to support the affected tendons and musculature. Topical cortisone gels may also be used to reduce inflammation. 

 

In some cases, steroid injections may also be used to treat this injury.

While conservative treatment is often successful, the most important element in traditional care is rest. Depending on your condition’s severity, you may need to rest your elbow for weeks before returning to activity.

This injury can take from 6 months to 12 months to fully heal. There are cases of pain persisting for more than a year.

how airrosti can help: tennis elbow diagnosis and treatment

Many individuals suffering from injuries like tennis elbow seek Airrosti care as an alternative to long periods of rest or invasive and costly surgeries. Airrosti treatment can help dramatically speed recovery and relieve pain, without drugs or injections. Most patients can return to normal activity within only 1 to 3 visits, based on patient-reported outcomes.

Call Airrosti at (800) 404-6050 or click here to schedule your first worry-free visit so we can quickly get you on the road to recovery.

Reviewed by Casey Crisp, Doctor of Chiropractic

Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you experience any numbness, tingling or reproduction of your symptoms, please contact your doctor.

 

Reviewed by Casey Crisp, Doctor of Chiropractic

Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you experience any numbness, tingling or reproduction of your symptoms, please contact your doctor.

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