Dr. Noah Raizman answers your questions about Lateral Epicondylitis, sometimes known as tennis elbow.
Q: What is Lateral Epicondylitis, and is it the same thing as “Tennis Elbow?”
A: Lateral Epicondylitis and Tennis Elbow are one and the same. Lateral Epicondylitis is a painful condition caused by damage to the elbow where the tendons that extend your wrist and fingers originate from. That area is called the lateral epicondyle. Tendons attach muscle to bone. The primary muscle that allows your wrist to extend, the ECRB (extensor carpi radialis brevis), is usually the tendon involved.
Q: What causes it?
A: Lateral Epicondylitis can be caused by trauma, repetitive mild trauma and overuse, but truly, we are not sure why some people get it and others do not. We consider it a “tendinopathy of middle age” because it typically happens in patients in their 40s and 50s, though it can occur at any age. Sometimes it is due to sports activities like golf or racquet sports and sometimes from work activities, but, just as often, it seems to happen after lifting or carrying objects.
Q: What are the symptoms?
A: Lateral Epicondylitis typically includes symptoms such as pain over the outside (lateral) part of the elbow. There is typically no clicking, popping or feeling of instability. There typically is no pain over the back or inside of the elbow. The pain is worst with gripping, grasping and wringing activities and can be provoked by typing or using a computer mouse with the wrist extended. There is not usually any numbness or tingling associated with it.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by swelling in the carpal tunnel, which puts pressure on the nerve. This pressure can happen due to joint dislocations, fractures, arthritis, and many other causes. Symptoms can include pain, numbness, tingling, a weak grip and clumsiness. Learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome at www.handcare.org.
The wrist bones and hand bones give you the support and flexibility needed to move your hand in all different ways and control objects of all shapes and sizes. There are eight bones in the wrist:
The scaphoid bone is the most commonly injured wrist bone, typically resulting in a scaphoid fracture.
Learn more about the bones of the wrist with the interactive anatomy tool from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.
Arthritis is a common hand condition that can affect anyone. Learn about the different types of arthritis below.
- MP Joint Arthritis: This type of arthritis is a result of loss of cartilage at a joint, which can result from regular wear and tear, an injury or a medical condition. With MP Joint Arthritis, a common symptom is a shift in the fingers toward the pinky side. Other symptoms include pain, loss of motion, swelling and swollen-looking joints. Learn more.
- Osteoarthritis: This arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that also involves loss of cartilage at the joints. It may cause bony nodules at the middle joint of the finger or at the end of the finger, as well as swelling, aching and bumps. It may be more difficult to open a jar or turn a key. Learn more.
- Psoriatic Arthritis: Psoriasis is a skin disease in which patients have dry, red and scaly skin rashes on the body. Some patients may develop psoriatic arthritis as a result. Symptoms may include swollen fingers, fingernail deformities, deformity at the end of the finger, and skin rashes. Learn more.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: This condition is most common in the wrist and knuckles and typically occurs in both hands. Symptoms may include a soft lump on the back of the hand, a bent middle finger, firm nodules along the fingers or elbow, and the inability to straighten or bend a finger. You may feel numbness or tingling in your hand due to the swelling of the tendons. Learn more.
- Shoulder Arthritis: The likelihood of shoulder arthritis increases with age. It is most common in people over the age of 50; however, younger people can get it after suffering from a fracture or dislocation. The most common symptom of this condition is pain, which worsens with activity. Loss of motion is also a symptom of shoulder arthritis. Learn more.
- Thumb Arthritis: This type of arthritis comes with age. You may feel pain and weakness with pinching and grasping. Opening jars, turning doorknobs or keys, and writing are often painful activities. Learn more.
Visit www.handcare.org to browse articles, images and videos related to arthritis.
Follow these steps to find one of more than 3,500 surgeon members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand:
- Visit the Find a Hand Surgeon tool.
- Search by city, state, zip code or name.
- Browse the profiles of the hand surgeons near you.
- Use the contact information provided to make an appointment.
Visit a hand surgeon for treatment of the fingers, hand, arm and shoulder. Learn more about hand surgeons and common conditions of the upper extremity at www.handcare.org.