Tennis elbow, clinically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a form of tendinitis that occurs as a result of overuse. This condition, as the name implies, is commonly associated with the swinging motions used in tennis. Tennis elbow affects the lateral epicondyle, which are the tendons that lie in the bony prominence located on the outside of the elbow. These tendons, which connect the lower arm muscles to the bone, are involved in movements that allow the fingers and wrists to extend. Overuse of these tendons can cause swelling and inflammation, leading to intermediate to severe pain whenever the wrist is moved. Despite its name, you can develop this condition even if you’ve never stepped foot on a tennis court. Any activities that involve repetitive gripping, especially with the first two fingers and the thumb, can lead to elbow pain.
Aside from tennis, other sports and activities that can lead to tennis elbow include:
- Weight lifting
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
If you think you might have developed tennis elbow, there are several symptoms associated with the condition to look for. The most immediate symptom that may indicate a diagnosis of tennis elbow is the experience a re-occurring pain as you bend or move your wrist. This pain will be felt in the upper forearm near the elbow.
Individuals suffering from tennis elbow often experience pain when lifting or bending the arm. Even grasping light objects like a coffee cup can cause notable discomfort in the arm. Also, if you have difficulty fully extending your arm out, then you may have tennis elbow. Difficulty extending your arms could be a result of inflamed muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons.
Treatment Options for Tennis Elbow
The good news is, tennis elbow will often heal on its own with proper rest and ice application. Tennis elbow can also be improved through physical therapy and stretching exercises, which require wrist extension activities. These exercises can be done daily to help increase flexibility, reduce stiffness, strengthen muscles and diminish the painful symptoms of tennis elbow.
Since inflammation is one of the most common reasons for loss of movement and pain, pairing wrist extension exercises with different types of anti-inflammatory medications can be effective. Anti-inflammatory medications make living with tennis elbow easier as you work to strengthen and stretch your muscles. A specialized elbow strap can also be used to protect the injury from further strain
In rare cases, medication and strength training alone may not be enough. Steroid injections are an option to temporarily ease pain and swelling. For roughly 3% of people who have tennis elbow, surgery may be necessary in order to eliminate painful symptoms.
Schedule a Pain Management Consultation in Austin
If you are experiencing prolonged pain in the elbow or upper part of the arm, then you may have tennis elbow. Schedule an appointment with the Diagnostic Pain Center in Austin today for a clinical evaluation. Based on your assessment and diagnosis, our providers will create an appropriate treatment plan to eliminate your painful symptoms faster and get you back to doing the things you love. Call our Austin pain doctors at (512) 981-7246 or click on the button below to request an appointment.