Tennis elbow, officially called lateral epicondylitis, is a condition involving the degeneration of a tendon’s attachment on the outside (lateral) part of the elbow. Simply put, the degeneration causes pain. The pain may be located on the outside of the elbow, and it can be tender to the touch. This condition can also cause pain during activity, especially when gripping or lifting things. Sometimes, the pain will travel down your forearm and into the hand.
Tennis elbow is commonly caused by overuse, which doesn’t necessarily result from playing tennis. Overuse can be from work-related activities such as typing or plumbing, or non-work activities such as painting. It can also be caused by trauma. If you’ve suffered from a direct blow to the elbow at some point, it may lead to degeneration.
Sometimes, tennis elbow pain will go away on its own. If it doesn’t, here are potential methods for treating this condition:
- Activity modification: Limiting the activity causing the pain or modifying your technique
- Anti-Inflammatory Medication
- Brace: A band worn over the muscle of the forearm just below the elbow, which reduces tension on the tendon
- Physical therapy: Stretching and/or strengthening exercises, ultrasound, or heat treatments
- Steroid injections: A strong anti-inflammatory medication injected into the area
- Autologous blood injections (ABI) or platelet rich plasma (PRP): Withdrawing blood from an uninjured site and reinjecting it into the area of the lateral epicondyle
Not all of these potential treatment options will work for everyone. Visit a hand surgeon to talk about your symptoms and decide the best course of action for you. Learn more about tennis elbow and other upper extremity conditions by visiting www.HandCare.org.