Tennis Elbow

The elbow condition named lateral epicondylitis is called tennis elbow. The inflammation of the tendons which attach to bony prominence on the outside, cause tennis elbow injury. Tennis elbow is a painful condition which can occur due to repeated muscle contractions in the forearm. This repeated muscle contraction can cause inflammation and micro-tears in tendons attaching to the lateral epicondyle. The lateral epicondyle is a bony prominence felt outside the elbow. Sports individuals playing tennis are more prone to tennis elbow.

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

  • Pain or weakness in the grip of the hand.
  • The pain in the elbow is radiating to the wrist and backward.
  • The pain on the elbow is outside which radiates to wrist and forearm.
  • The gradual worsening of the elbow pain may indicate the presence of tennis elbow.

Common Causes of Tennis Elbow

These are the activities associated with the cause of tennis elbow.

  • Musicians who play music instruments can have tennis elbow.
  • Exercising in the gym or lifting heavy objects.
  • Gardening
  • Weaving
  • Raking
  • Typing
  • Hammering
  • Painting

Diagnosis of Tennis Elbow

The physician can diagnose by using any of the following diagnostic tools.

  • The use of X-rays with other diagnostic procedures.
  • The physician may conduct physical examination of the patient.
  • The orthopedic surgeon may inquire about medical history of the patient.

Conservative Treatment Options

The physician may recommend any of the following conservative treatment options for treating tennis elbow.

  • The use of pulse ultrasound to increase the flow of blood and healing to the injured tendons.
  • Occupational therapy to help strengthen the tendons and ask the patient to do various stretching forearm exercises after symptoms of tennis elbow have started subsiding.
  • Use of Anti-inflammatory drugs or medicines to help relieve pain and swelling.
  • To avoid physical activities causing symptoms which would lead to tennis elbow problem.
  • The patient may be asked to apply ice packs on the swelled area of the elbow.
  • To ask the patient to use splints or braces to decrease stress caused to the injured tissues.

Sometimes, conservative treatments for treating tennis elbow do not yield any results. If the tennis elbow condition persists for 6 to 12 months, the orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery.

There is a procedure called lateral epicondyle release surgery used for treating tennis elbow. The surgeon will decide between traditional surgery or endoscopic surgery.

In traditional surgery, the surgeon makes a 2-inch incision in the affected elbow area.

In arthroscopic surgery, the surgeon makes one or two smaller incisions and uses an arthroscope (a device with a camera attached to it) to treat the tennis elbow. By using an arthroscope, the surgeon can view through the camera images of the joint on a television screen. This technology enables the surgeon to get a complete view of the entire elbow including cartilage, ligaments, nerves, and bones.

Benefits of Endoscopic Procedure for Tennis Elbow

  • Minimal damaged to the soft tissues
  • Smaller incisions
  • Lesser pain
  • Reduced healing time with lesser chances of infection
  • This procedure can be performed as outpatient day surgery resulting in lesser scarring

The type of procedure used by the surgeon depends on the patient’s physical condition and extent of damage caused by the tennis elbow.