Doctor's Notes on Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Tennis elbow is medically known as lateral epicondylitis. It is caused by inflammation of the tendon that attaches muscle to the bony projection (called the epicondyle) on the outside of the elbow. While it occurs in some people who play racquet sports, other activities can lead to tennis elbow as well. For example, job activities that involve frequent use of the forearm muscles, such as meat cutting, painting, plumbing, or weaving are also associated with the development of tennis elbow.
Associated symptoms of tennis elbow include mild pain that is worsened by pressing on the affected area and by lifting objects, particularly with extension of the wrist. The pain may worsen with time and in severe cases, even small movements of the elbow joint may cause pain.
What Is the Treatment for Tennis Elbow?
Treatment for tennis elbow may include a combination of the following:
- Resting the elbow joint
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy to strengthen muscles
- Application of ice or cold packs 3-4 times daily for 10-20 minutes
- Injections of Botox, corticosteroids, or platelet-rich plasma
- Support braces
- Dry needling of the tendon
- Ultrasound therapy
- Surgery, if conservative treatment is not effective
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What Is the Best Treatment for Tennis Elbow?Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) refers to an injury to the outer elbow tendon that occurs after strenuous overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm, near the elbow joint. Treatment for tennis elbow involves both short-term pain relief and long-term health improvement of the tendons through exercise and physical therapy.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.