Lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, is characterized by pain on the outside (lateral side) of the elbow. The pain is caused by damage to the tendons that bend the wrist backward away from the palm. A tendon is a tough cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones. The tendon most commonly involved in tennis elbow is called the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB), and this condition is usually diagnosed in both men and women between the ages of 30 to 50 years.
Tennis elbow, as the name implies, often is caused by the force of the tennis racket hitting balls in the backhand position. The forearm muscles, which attach to the outside of the elbow, may become sore from excessive strain. When making a backhand stroke in tennis, the tendons that roll over the end of the elbow can become damaged. Tennis elbow may be caused by the following:
The following are the most common symptoms of tennis elbow. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.
Initially, the pain may be felt along the outside of the forearm and elbow. The pain may increase down to the wrist, even at rest, if the person continues the activity that causes the condition. Pain may also persist when the arm and hand are placed palm-down on a table and the person tries to raise the hand against resistance.
The symptoms of tennis elbow may resemble other medical problems or conditions. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
The diagnosis of tennis elbow usually can be made based on a physical examination. However, in some cases, an x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and electromyography (EMG) of the elbow are necessary.
Specific treatment for tennis elbow will be determined by your physician based on:
Treatment for tennis elbow includes stopping the activity that produces the symptoms. Treatment may include:
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