The condition known as lateral epicondylitis is more commonly known as tennis elbow. It is an overuse injury that leads to inflammation and microscopic tears in the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the lateral epicondyle, a bony bump on the outer part of the elbow.
Lateral epicondylitis can occur at any age but most frequently affects individuals between the ages of 35 and 50. It is more common in people who participate in people who play tennis and other racquet sports, but also affects painters, plumbers, carpenters, auto mechanics, cooks, and even butchers.
Symptoms of tennis elbow include tenderness directly over the lateral epicondyle, elbow pain, and weakness or pain when gripping objects. Your dominant arm is most often affected; however, both arms can be affected.
If you think you may have tennis elbow, an upper extremity subspecialist at Lancaster Orthopedic Group will review your medical history, perform a thorough evaluation, and possibly recommend an X-ray, MRI, or an EMG to rule out nerve compression.
Conservative treatments for tennis elbow include rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and pain, and avoiding activities that worsen the symptoms. A splint or elbow brace may decrease the stress on injured tendons.
If symptoms persist for longer than six to 12 months, your physician may recommend a surgical procedure called lateral epicondyle release surgery. The surgery can help to relieve the tension on the tendon by releasing it and reattaching it to the bone. After surgery, physical therapy can improve the strength and range of motion of the elbow joint.