Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is one of the most common upper extremity conditions seen in orthopedics today. It is a common tendinopathy classified as an overuse or overstress condition and can be the result of a repetitive activity fatiguing the hand, wrist, forearm or elbow.
The fatigue and stress creates an inflammation that grows increasingly worse over time.
There are over nine million reported cases of tennis elbow in the United States alone every year, though most of those diagnosed with Tennis Elbow have never played tennis. While tennis is the sport for which the condition is named, affecting approximately five in 10 recreational and professional tennis players, the most prominent profile of a tennis elbow patient is the average man and woman between the ages of 40 and 60 – performing everyday activities. A smaller percentage of those diagnosed with tennis elbow, approximately 10 to 20 percent, are those sustaining severe injury resulting from a fall or direct hit to the area.
Tennis elbow actually causes the tendons around the elbow to become inflamed and results in pain at the outside, or lateral side, of the elbow – as opposed to the inside, or medial side, of the elbow associated with a condition known as Golfer’s Elbow, or medial epicondylitis.
Tennis elbow often occurs in the dominant arm. If left untreated, the affected tendon can tear and cause scar tissue to develop. Those suffering from the condition may experience moderate to debilitating pain as the tendon becomes increasingly weaker over time.
Some of the common symptoms of tennis elbow include:
- Pain along the outside of the elbow of the dominant arm – radiating or traveling into the forearm and possibly the hand.
- Pain and subsequent weakness with reaching or grabbing activities.