Tennis Elbow, a Condition Caused more often by Activity Off…. Than On the Tennis Court
As summer sports heat up and we scramble to fill the long days of daylight with activities we’ve waited all winter to do, injuries and other overuse conditions affecting the hand, wrist and elbow are bound to occur.
A common overuse condition we see in the office throughout the year and particularly during the summer months is Tennis Elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis. “Epicondylitis” refers to inflammation at the epicondyle (where tendon and muscle attaches to the humeral condyle of the elbow). “Lateral” refers to the outside portion of the elbow.
Considered an overuse or repetitive stress, tendinopathic condition affecting the lower arm muscles and tendons along the outside of the elbow, the condition is named after the sport first identified as a primary cause – affecting five out of 10 recreational and professional tennis players. Though the condition is caused by many different types of activities causing repeated twisting and strain on the lower arm and elbow – including playing certain musical instruments, sports, manual labor and other everyday activities.
Tennis elbow is frequently seen in those between the ages of 40 and 60.
Symptoms of tennis elbow may initially cause only moderate pain in the outer portion of the elbow, but over time may spread down the forearm and back of the middle and ring fingers. If left untreated, the pain can cause severe pain and weakness limiting arm function.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Tennis elbow is generally diagnosed by discussing the discomfort and observing the pain a patient experiences when performing certain arm movements. In many cases tennis elbow is addressed non surgically with conservative treatment that may include refraining from the activity, anti inflammatory medication or physical therapy with instruction on behavior modification.
If conservative treatment does not resolve the condition, a surgical procedure known as lateral epicondyle release is performed to relieve the tension.