Tennis elbow is clinically called lateral epicondylitis. It is an inflammatory condition of the tissues on the outside of the elbow. It often occurs due to heavy, repetitive wrist and elbow joint movements. Because of continuous use, the tendons that attach muscles to the bones of the elbow and forearm tear or swell. This causes an inflammatory condition called tennis elbow. It was seen more often in lawn tennis players, and hence the name.
Causes of Tennis Elbow
Overuse and repetitive action of elbow and forearm muscles cause pain, swelling, and tearing of tendons. This occurs mostly between 30 to 50 years of age. Activities that involve repeated and strenuous movement of wrist and elbow strain the muscles in that region and put stress on the tendons. Racquet sports such as squash, tennis and racquet ball; weight lifting, throwing sports can cause tennis elbow. Even normal but repetitive hand and wrist movements like using a paintbrush, using scissors or typing activity can cause this type of problem.
Symptoms of Tennis elbow
The most common symptoms is pain on the outer part of your elbow region. You may have swelling around your elbow joint. You may experience pain, discomfort in your forearm while doing things with your hands. The pain is often worse with forearm activity such as lifting weights, opening a bottle, gripping an object tightly such as a barbell, or when giving a handshake, opening a car door etc.
Tennis Elbow Diagnosis
The diagnosis is usually clinical. Your Orthopaedic surgeon, or Physiotherapist will examine your arm and elbow for pain, swellings etc. The doctor may order an X-ray or Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of your arm to rule out other causes of pain around the elbow. These tests will help your doctor rule out arthritis, fractures, etc.
Treatment for Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow usually settles down with rest, icing, pain medication and physiotherapy. Sometimes steroid or PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injections are needed to decrease the pain and inflammation. Rarely, surgery may be needed in severe cases which do not respond to the above measures.
Recently, arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery is proving to have better results than traditional open surgery. At The Shoulder Centre, our consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons and Physiotherapists specialise in the treatment of this common condition.