Lateral Epicondylitis

Tennis Elbow

Lateral epicondylitis or Tennis Elbow is the inflammation or wear and tear of the Common Extensor Tendon that attaches to the lateral epicondyle (a bone in your elbow). The primary symptom is pain and is common among men in their 30’s- 50’s. This may also be due to age as it decreases the extensibility of the connective tissue. The patient usually reports pain when bringing the palm back or when the elbow is straight. It may also be painful to perform activities such as holding or gripping objects. There is usually swelling and tenderness along the lateral epicondyle and pain increases with activity.

Moreover, lateral epicondylitis is diagnosed by physical examination of the extremity and several manual maneuvers that specifically identify the presence of the lateral epicondyle with resisted wrist extension. This maneuver implies that the muscle which is attached to the lateral epicondyle named Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Brevis is creating the pain.

In addition, to conservatively treat this diagnosis, doctors will recommend R.I.C.E or rest, ice, compression and elevation together with avoiding activities that can aggravate the pain as well as taking NSAIDs to alleviate the pain. A patient may also use a splint to rest the elbow and aid to relieve the muscle tension. Physical therapy may include stretching and strengthening to improve flexibility and functional activities. Sometimes, a patient can also get a cortisone shot while doing physical therapy. Eventually the patient can wean off the splint or brace and try using the arm/elbow muscles to avoid being dependent on it.

Finally, if conservative treatments of lateral epicondylitis do not improve symptoms after 2 – 3 months, a patient can opt for surgery.

By: Rhia Vista, PTA

Posted in: Elbow/ Wrist/ Hand

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