Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)

Conquering Tennis Elbow

Lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, is a painful condition resulting from the overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons. Despite its name, you don’t have to be a tennis player to suffer from it; it can affect anyone who engages in activities that require repetitive gripping, twisting, or arm movements. This includes not just sports enthusiasts but also tradespeople, musicians, and office workers.

The condition centers around the lateral epicondyle, a bony bump on the outside of the elbow where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach. With overuse, these tendons can develop small tears, leading to inflammation, pain, and tenderness around the elbow. This discomfort can extend into the forearm and wrist, particularly when lifting objects, making a fist, or gripping something, even as light as a coffee cup.

Symptoms often develop gradually, starting as mild discomfort and progressively becoming more severe if the aggravating activities are not reduced or modified. The pain might initially be intermittent but can become constant over time, potentially leading to a significant decrease in grip strength and overall arm function.

Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination, where specific movements that strain the tendon and elicit pain will confirm lateral epicondylitis. Imaging tests are rarely needed unless another condition is suspected.

We Can Help
Treatment for tennis elbow is predominantly non-surgical. It focuses on relieving pain and inflammation while promoting healing of the tendon. This might include rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, braces or straps to reduce tendon strain, and physical therapy exercises aimed at stretching and gradually strengthening the forearm muscles. In some persistent cases, more invasive options like injections or surgery might be considered.

Preventative measures, such as proper equipment use, technique adjustments, and regular breaks during activities, are key to avoiding lateral epicondylitis. With appropriate management, most people recover fully, although patience is required, as healing can take several months.