Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

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Although naturally linked to the sport of tennis, tennis elbow can be caused by various other sports and activities. Over time, tennis elbow can be painful and lead to inflammation and micro-tears in the tendons of the elbow.

At OrthoAspen, our goal is to help you keep doing the sports and activities you enjoy. Our fellowship trained shoulder and elbow specialist will work to find you a solution that enables you to get back to the active lifestyle to which you’re accustomed.

Causes & Symptoms

Tennis elbow is the common name used for the elbow condition referred to as “lateral epicondylitis.” This elbow condition occurs most often from overuse, linked to sports activities such as tennis, and also painting, hammering, typing and any activity that involves gripping of the wrist/hand. Although anyone can develop tennis elbow, it’s most prominent between the age groups of 30 and 50.

Repetitive use leads to inflammation of the tendons that attach to the bony prominence on the outside of the elbow (lateral epicondyle).

Symptoms of lateral epicondylitis include:

  • Pain
  • Burning
  • Weakened grip
Diagnosis

To properly evaluate and diagnose tennis elbow, your OrthoAspen physician will review your medical history, perform a thorough physical examination and order X-rays, an MRI or electromyogram (EMG) to detect any nerve compression.

Treatment

Whenever possible, your OrthoAspen shoulder and elbow specialist will implement conservative treatment methods to address lateral epicondylitis.

Conservative treatment options include:

  • Limitation of the use of the arm from activities that worsen symptoms.
  • Incorporation of splints or braces to decrease stress on the injured tissues.
  • Application of ice packs on the elbow to reduce swelling.
  • Restriction of activities that trigger symptoms and increase stress on the tendons.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications and/or steroid injections to treat pain and swelling.
  • Physical therapy may be ordered for strengthening and stretching exercises to the muscles of the forearm (once symptoms have decreased).
  • Pulsed ultrasound to increase blood flow and promote healing to the injured tendons.

If conservative treatment options fail to resolve the condition and symptoms persist during a six to 12 month time period, your OrthoAspen physician may recommend surgery.

Lateral epicondyle release surgery is used to treat tennis elbow. Based on your specific condition, your surgeon will decide whether to perform surgery in the traditional open manner (single large incision) or endoscopically (two to three tiny incisions and the use of an endoscope—a narrow lighted tube with a camera).

Surgery involves moving aside soft tissue to view the extensor tendon and its attachment on the lateral epicondyle. The tendon is either trimmed or released and then reattached to the bone. Any scar tissue present will be removed as well as any bone spurs. After the surgery is completed, the incision(s) are closed by suturing or tape.

Following surgery, physical therapy is implemented to improve the range of motion and strength of the elbow joint.

At OrthoAspen, we’re committed to finding the safest, most effective treatment plan to relieve the symptoms of lateral epicondylitis.

To request an appointment with one of our shoulder and elbow orthopedic specialists, simply click here or call us at 970-544-1289.

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Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400