Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
What is lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)?
Damage to the tendons of the forearm muscles that extend your wrist. Tendons are like rubber bands that attach these forearm muscles to a bone on the outside of the elbow. The tendon usually involved is called the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB). The tendons may become damaged from overuse or injury and can develop tears and scars which cause inflammation, swelling, and pain. Tennis players, painters, plumbers, mechanics, cooks, butchers, and carpenters are commonly affected.
What are the symptoms?
- Pain or burning on the outer elbow
- Weak grip strength
- Symptoms are worse with holding a racquet, turning a wrench, or shaking hands.
- The dominant arm is most often affected
What medical tests will I need?
- X-Rays: to rule out any abnormal bone structures that might be causing your symptoms.
- MRI: to see if the tendons and muscles are damaged.
How is it treated?
- Anti-inflammatory Medicine: controls swelling in the elbow. These include naproxen, ibuprofen, and meloxicam.
- Steroid injections: anti-inflammatories injected into the side of the elbow. This can be repeated every 3 months.
- Physical /Occupational Therapy: to strengthen, stretch, and increase your range of motion.
- Tenex: A less invasive surgery that uses ultrasound to remove the diseased tissue.
- Surgical release: the damaged tendon is removed and the bone is scraped to encourage healing.
What do I need to know about surgery?
- You will be contacted within 2 weeks of your pre-op appointment for pricing and scheduling.
- The surgery will last less than 45 minutes and you will go home the same day.
- Your surgeon will make an incision at the outer elbow and remove the damaged tissue.
- You will have a splint for 2 weeks that will keep your elbow from moving.
- You will not be able to lift anything with the affected arm for 4 weeks.
- At your 2 week follow up visit, the sutures and bandage will be removed, and you will begin scar massage.
- If you are having symptoms in the other arm, you will be given the option to have surgery at your 4 week follow up