Tennis Elbow

Symptoms

The classic symptom of tennis elbow is pain near the outside of the elbow, most noticeably while grasping with your hand. Additional symptoms include pain in the forearm and wrist, pain when extending the wrist, weakness of the forearm muscles, pain when gripping items (shaking hands or turning a doorknob), and trouble holding items, such as coffee cups or pens while writing.

Causes

As its name suggests, prolonged tennis playing can cause tennis elbow, especially among amateurs who use improper form on the backhand swing, but it is by no means the only cause. In fact, the overwhelming majority of tennis elbow is caused by some other overuse or repetitive activity. Any activity that requires repetitive contraction of the forearm muscles that straighten the arm and wrist can lead to tennis elbow. Activities that can result in tennis elbow include painting for extended periods of time, meat cutting (butchers), yard work that includes raking leaves or spreading mulch or soil, and knitting or weaving. Shoveling snow, weight lifting and fishing may lead to tennis elbow as well.

Background

Tennis elbow, clinically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that results from prolonged overuse of the muscles responsible for wrist extension, radial deviation (raising thumb towards outside of elbow), and supination (rotating palm outward). These muscles attach on the outside of the elbow joint via tendons connecting the muscles to the humerus (upper arm bone). Prolonged overuse causes friction between the tendons and the bony structures of the elbow. This friction over time can lead to inflammation of the tendons. Tennis elbow can be a very stubborn condition taking months to resolve, so early treatment with a comprehensive approach is important.

shutterstock_74860915Aligned Medical Group’s Approach

We first want you to stop or reduce the activity that is causing your tennis elbow. Our doctor can prescribe an elbow brace to support your tendons if we need to keep you in the game during your treatment plan. We act fast to reduce swelling and pain, using injections of Sarapin, lidocaine or cortisone, along with cold laser, muscle stimulation and ice. We want to reduce tension along the musculature in your forearm and this is typically best accomplished using Graston Technique, a stainless steel instrument that glides over your forearm and elbow, pushing tightness out of the way. As you heal, we work on flexibility and strengthening to improve the likelihood that your condition fully resolves and most importantly, does not return.