Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a condition that many people have heard of, but few understand. While common in tennis (hence the name), it stems from an overload of repetitive motions in the wrist and arm. This leads to an inflammation of the tendons and muscles surrounding the elbow, causing damage and pain. Anyone with a job or lifestyle that consists of repetitive arm motions is more likely to develop it, such as painters, carpenters, factory workers or even musicians and artists.
Symptoms and Pain
Tennis elbow is painful! Pain often radiates from your elbow into the forearm or the wrist, and may also result in weakness. These symptoms develop gradually, worsening over a period of weeks or months. The pain becomes more severe when the elbow is in use. Fortunately, most of the pain associated with moderate tennis elbow can be relieved through over-the-counter pain medication.
When to See A Doctor
If the pain does not subside with rest and over-the-counter pain medication, you may need to see an orthopaedic physician. In most cases of tennis elbow, it can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication, a brace, and physical therapy. If symptoms persist after 6-12 months of treatment, surgery may be necessary. Most surgical procedures involve removing damaged/diseased muscle and reattaching healthy muscle back to the bone.
Stretching and warming up before repetitive activity is a great way to prevent tennis elbow. If you notice consistent pain while doing a certain activity, take more breaks or figure out an alternative motion that doesn’t strain the muscles and tendons around the elbow. A support brace can also reduce the amount of strain on the elbow. Ensuring your technique for the activity is correct can be a big factor in whether or not you develop tennis elbow. If pain persists, don’t try to work through it! Schedule an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist at Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. You can schedule online here, or by calling 513-354-3700 any time.
To learn more about other elbow conditions, explore our interactive education tool here.