The term lateral epicondylitis—often referred to as “tennis elbow,” is a condition marked by small tears in the tendons that surround the elbow area. These tears occur on the outside of the elbow and do so because of cumulative and on-going trauma that is caused by repeated use of the arm and forearm muscles. Athletes and sports enthusiasts who play tennis are at a higher risk for developing lateral epicondylitis. The pain and tenderness associated with medial epicondylitis or “golfers elbow” will occur on the inside of the elbow and will intensify when lifting, extending or making a fist.
For individuals who play tennis or similar activities every day, bone strength, the right technique and decreasing the intensity of play can oftentimes help keep tennis elbow at bay.
Symptoms of Lateral Epicondylitis
Tennis elbow can create a great deal of pain, usually on the outside of the elbow. Lifting objects, gripping and turning the arm will be difficult to do. For some, the pain will radiate up and down the arm while for others the pain will stay primarily in the elbow itself.
Treatment for Tennis Elbow
As with many sports-related injuries, RICE is typically the first form of treatment that Dr. Millett will recommend. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. If the injury is related to overuse of the wrist, eliminating the activity all together for a duration of time will often heel the injury. Over time, physical therapy might also be required to help strengthen the elbow. In some cases, a splint or brace will be recommended.
Surgery to repair medical epicondylitis: If left untreated, tennis elbow may require surgical intervention. Dr. Millett will likely perform arthroscopic elbow surgery to repair the torn tendons. The procedure is a minimally-invasive, out-patient surgery that is most often a successful course of treatment for the patient.