Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Overuse of the Tendon in the Elbow

Lateral epicondylitis, more commonly known as tennis elbow, is a condition that is caused by overuse or chronic degeneration of the tendons. Although playing tennis or racquetball can lead to tennis elbow, if often occurs with other sports or due to chronic degeneration.

Tendons are fibrous tissue bands that connect muscles and bones. Performing repetitive motions with your arms or hands, such as playing sports, can lead to lateral epicondylitis. This happens due to degeneration in the tendons.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Pain on the side of the elbow
  • Problems holding, turning or gripping objects
  • Weakness in the arm or hand

Your doctor will start the diagnosis process by taking your medical history and doing a physical exam. You may also obtain X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans.

Treatment for tennis elbow may include:

  • Rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Ice for the elbow
  • Braces
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Topical medications
  • Injections
  • Ultrasonic tenotomy (TENEX procedure)
  • Surgery

Lateral epicondylitis may resolve on its own with minimal treatments such as ice, rest and physical therapy stretches and exercises. If the pain continues and affects your activities, you should seek evaluation for other treatment options.

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