The medical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis. This is a condition that will initially present as pain in the lateral part of the elbow. This is usually characterised as a sharp pain and will impact the patients quality of life as it can affect even the simplest of tasks. Not only will the patient struggle with pain, but they can also experience a weakened grip which also makes simple tasks more difficult. Tennis elbow is a very common orthopedic problem that healthcare professionals will treat regularly.
Repetitive motions are the leading cause of tennis elbow. This is because the tendons in the lateral part of the elbow are likely to become damaged when the same motion is repeated regularly over an extended period of time. This overuse can be of the arm, forearm or hand. The name of the condition itself came about due to tennis players being at a high risk of developing this condition. It is also sometimes called golfers elbow for the same reason.
How Can Tennis Elbow Be Diagnosed?
If you start to experience pain around the elbow, whether suddenly or gradually over time, then this can be a big indication. Additionally, if you find it difficult to grasp objects properly or to squeeze objects, then consulting with your doctor for a diagnosis should be a priority.
How Can Tennis Elbow Be Treated?
The first step in treating this condition is to completely stop, or at least limit, the activity that is believed to have caused the problem. This can of course be difficult in many cases as it is often related to the job of the patient. Anti-inflammatory medications can also be prescribed. An orthopedic doctor will also usually suggest that the patient incorporates a series of stretches into their routine each day. This serves to introduce new movements to the elbow as opposed to the usual motions that have caused the problem. In certain instances, a cortisone injection might also be given in the affected area. A brace may also be worn which can go a long way to helping to reduce the symptoms of tennis elbow.
A treatment plan will usually be spread over quite a long period of time, and, if no encouraging results are seen, then surgery may be the only option. Before surgery is scheduled, an MRI of the elbow will be conducted. This will show the orthopedic doctor what condition the tendons, ligaments and bones are in. Following surgery, the patient will require physical therapy. The recovery period is usually approximately two months, with a suggested waiting period of six months before a patient goes back to their normal activities.