Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis/epicondylosis, is a painful musculoskeletal condition that develops when tendons in your elbow are overloaded. This is usually caused by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm coupled with poor overall arm biomechanics.
Athletes are not the only people who develop tennis elbow. People who work jobs that require types of repetitive motions that can lead to tennis elbow include mechanics, painters, carpenters, factory workers, and office computer work
Pain is experienced on the lateral elbow where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach. Pain can also develop in the forearm muscles and radiate to the hand.
Rest and over-the-counter pain relievers often help relieve pain, however, if conservative treatments fail or if symptoms become disabling interventions such as PRP, prolotherapy, or TENEX may be beneficial. Some patients may even require surgery.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis is made clinically after a physician takes a history and does an examination. If available a point of care ultrasound exam may be performed to look for abnormalities of the tendon and its attachment.
Sometimes further imaging is ordered, X-ray/MRI/CT, to rule in or out other pathology or determine extent of injury to the tendon.
The mainstay of treatment is non-operative and initially is rest, activity modification, OTC analgesics, bracing, and therapy.
When conservative measures fail, there is evidence that interventions such as PRP, prolotherapy, and TENEX can be beneficial for reduction of pain and promote healing of the diseased/damaged tendon.
Corticosteroids have only been shown to provide short term relief for tennis elbow and are no longer recommended for treatment due to detrimental effects towards the tendons with its ability to heal and may weaken it.
Most chronic lateral elbow pain can be classified as a tendinosis. This is a degenerative condition that occurs from accumulation of micro-tears in a tendon overtime that do not heal. Watch James Huber, DO, PCI Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, as he explains chronic tendon issues and treatment >>