Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is the name for a condition in which the bony bump at the outer side of the elbow is painful and tender.
Contrary to the name, Tennis players are not the only people who suffer from lateral epicondylitis. Although it is common in athletes who participate in recreational activities that require repetitive use of the forearm muscle, tennis elbow is also found in many painters, plumbers, and cooks!
The elbow joint is made up of the bone in the upper arm (humerus) and one of the bones in the lower arm (ulna). The bony bumps at the bottom of the humerus are called epicondyles. The bump on the outer side of the elbow, to which certain forearm muscles are attached by tendons, is called the lateral epicondyle.
How does Tennis Elbow Occur?
Overusing the muscles in your forearm that straighten and raise your hand and wrist can lead to conditions like this. When we overuse these muscles, the tendons are repeatedly tugged at the point of attachment which causes them to become inflamed or swollen. Repeated, tiny tears in the tissue cause pain.
- Pain or tenderness on the outer side of the elbow that is made worse by lifting heavy objects. Usually the pain presents itself as a burning, throbbing, or aching pain.
- Discomfort when you straighten or raise your wrist and hand, make a fist, grab an object, shake hands, or turn door handles
- Pain that shoots from the elbow down into the forearm or up into the upper arm
- Apply ice to the painful area!
- Wear a tennis elbow strap. This strap wraps around the forearm below the elbow acting as a new attachment site for the forearm muscles and keeping them from pulling on the painful epicondyle.
- Your healthcare provider may recommend that you take an anti-inflammatory or additional pain medication.
- Your healthcare provider will give you rehabilitation exercises and may recommend physical therapy.