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Ask The TEam Doctor
December 6, 2012VYPE MAGAZINE - North Houston
What is Tennis Elbow and how do I know if that is what’s wrong with my elbow?
During this time of year, it is common for people to become increasingly active and engage in more activities outdoors making them more susceptible to injury. Lateral elbow pain is a very common injury seen in our clinics. “Tennis elbow,”or lateral epicondylitis, is the name of a condition where the bony “bump” on the outer part of the elbow becomes very painful and tender.
This “bump,” felt on the outer part of the elbow, is where the muscles that extend the wrist are attached. This injury typically occurs from overusing the muscles on your forearm that extend the wrist. This repetitive stress to the elbow can cause tiny tears in the tendon tissue which can result in the pain you feel. Some of the common activities that cause lateral epicondylitis are playing tennis and other racket sports, repetitive machine work, and typing.
Tennis elbow is often initially diagnosed by your healthcare provider by reviewing your history. This will likely include a discussion entailing your daily and recreational activities. Additionally, physical examination of the elbow will look for any swelling. Performing other physical exam maneuvers that reproduce the pain can help determine if you have tennis elbow. Often, x-rays are performed to look at the structure of the elbow as well.
Sports medicine doctors typically treat tennis elbow conservatively by advising ice to the elbow for 15-20 minutes every three hours. Anti-inflammatory medications are often used in conjunction with this to help with the pain. Other treatment options include wearing a tennis brace on the forearm and utilizing physical therapy exercises to improve the range of movement and strength of the muscles of the forearm. In rare cases, steroids can be injected for pain relief.
Surgery can be considered in difficult cases as well.
While recovering from tennis elbow, it is important to avoid repetitive movements with your elbow. If you are a tennis player, using a racket with a larger grip may help. It is also important to lift objects with your palm facing upward.
In summary, lateral epicondylitis, or “tennis elbow,” is a common cause of elbow pain that can be treated with multiple modalities by your sports medicine physician. To learn more about this and other common overuse injuries and conditions go to www.methodistwillowbrookortho.com.