Tennis Elbow

Brief Outline of Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is the most common overuse injury in the adult elbow, and causes the outer part of the elbow to become painful and tender. The affliction is usually related to either overuse of the muscles attached to bone at the elbow, or, less frequently, direct trauma to the elbow. Often, extensor muscles of the hand, which attach at the elbow, become strained from overuse, causing inflammation and pain.

Anatomy and physiology

Tendons attached to the bones of the elbow can become restricted or taut, causing irritation. The lateral epicondyle is a bony attachment located on the top of the forearm, near the elbow. Various muscles attach to the lateral epicondyle, including the anoconeus and supinator muscles, involved in rotating the forearm to the palm up position. Strain or overuse of extensor muscles (which lift the wrist away from the palm), can also cause tennis elbow.

Tennis Elbow

Cause of Tennis Elbow

Overuse of the muscles attached to the elbow. Direct injury to the elbow. Arthritis, rheumatism, or gout.

Signs and symptoms

Outer part of the elbow is painful and tender to touch. Movement is painful. Elbow is inflamed.

Complications if left unattended

Tennis elbow is generally treated without surgery, though discomfort will often worsen with the potential for tendon or muscle damage, should the condition be ignored.

Treatment

  • Avoidance of the activities causing repetitive stress to the elbow.
  • Injection
  • Physiotherapy
  • Shockwave therapy

Rehabilitation and prevention

  • Activities involving repetitive stress to the elbow or extensor muscles of the wrist should be avoided until the condition improves.

Long-term prognosis

Few patients suffering from tennis elbow require surgery, and of the small percentage that do, between 80% and 90% find the condition markedly improved.

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