What is Tennis Elbow?
The elbow is a joint made up of three bones: the upper arm bone, the humerus, and the two forearm bones, the radius and ulna. The lower end of the humerus has bony bumps called epicondyles that serve as sites of attachment for major tendons and muscles that help in arm movement. The bump on the outside of the elbow is called the lateral epicondyle. It helps in the attachment of the tendons and muscles that help extend your fingers and wrist.
Causes of Tennis Elbow
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
- Elbow pain that gradually worsens
- Pain to the outside of the elbow that radiates to the forearm and wrist with grasping objects
- Weak grip
- Painful grip
- Pain that is exacerbated in the elbow when the wrist is bent back
Diagnosis of Tennis Elbow
Your doctor will evaluate tennis elbow by reviewing your medical history, performing a thorough physical examination and ordering X-rays, MRI or electromyogram (EMG) to detect any nerve compression.
Treatment of Tennis Elbow
- Limit the use and rest the arm from activities that worsen symptoms.
- Splints or braces may be ordered to decrease stress on the injured tissues.
- Apply ice packs on the elbow to reduce swelling.
- Avoid activities that bring on the symptoms and increase stress on the tendons.
- Anti-inflammatory medications and/or steroid injections may be ordered to treat pain and swelling.
- Physical therapy may be ordered for strengthening and stretching exercises to the forearm once your symptoms have decreased.
- Pulsed ultrasound may be used to increase blood flow and promote healing to the injured tendons.
Following surgery, you are referred to physical therapy to improve the range of motion and strength of your joint.