What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is inflammation of the tendon at the outer portion of the elbow, leading to pain. Classically, the tennis elbow is a strain injury to this tendon from hitting a backhand shot at tennis. The medical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis because it involves inflammation at the insertion point of the tendon at the outer portion of the humerus bone at the elbow joint (the epicondyle). Most people with lateral epicondylitis actually acquire it from activities other than playing tennis.
In contrast, when the tendon that attaches at the inner portion of the elbow is inflamed, the condition is referred to as medial epicondylitis (or "golfer's elbow" because golfers commonly injure this area after striking the ground to take a deep divot).
What causes tennis elbow?
A strain injury to the tendon at the outer portion of the elbow causes tennis elbow. While this can occur by straining during a backhand tennis shot, it can also occur from many repetitive activities that can strain the elbow, such as:
- using a screwdriver or work that includes similar motions,
- Frisbee disc throwing, and
- lifting objects by extending the wrist, etc.
Risks of tennis elbow include any activity that can strain the elbow joint. Such activities include tennis, falling onto the extended upper extremity, using a screwdriver when unaccustomed, casting a fishing net, etc.
What are symptoms of tennis elbow?
Symptoms of tennis elbow include:
- Dull pain and tenderness at the outer elbow.
- There can be elbow stiffness and a sensation of weakness.
- Typically, with tennis elbow, people retain the full range of motion of the elbow and there is no significant swelling or discoloration.
- Holding a beverage cup or shaking hands can bring on pain.
Diagnosis of tennis elbow
- Physicians diagnose tennis elbow based on the history of outer elbow pain and tenderness, often with recent repetitive-use injury.
- Tenderness at the outer elbow with normal range of motion of the elbow joint assures the diagnosis.
- Generally, no radiology testing is necessary.
- MRI scanning can illustrate inflammation of the outer elbow.
What is the treatment for tennis elbow?
What is the fastest way to cure tennis elbow?
- Resting the elbow and employing measures to reduce the local inflammation are effective treatments for tennis elbow.
- Cold application several times daily and anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen [Advil, Motrin] or naproxen [Aleve]) can be helpful.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Your doctor may recommend applying topical NSAIDs on the affected area for your tennis elbow. If there is only a mild relief, they can prescribe you anti-inflammatory drugs, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises for the elbow guided by therapists can be helpful for persisting pain and inflammation.
- For tennis elbow resistant to these measures, local cortisone injection can be beneficial.
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections is blood plasma rich in platelets. The injection can hasten the healing process concerning the tennis elbow.
- Shockwave therapy involves passing high-energy sound waves through the skin to help alleviate pain and improve movement in the affected area. You may be advised multiple sessions depending on the severity of your pain.
- Rarely, surgical repair of the injured tendon is considered. The surgery for the tennis elbow involves cutting the affected tendon.
What is the prognosis for tennis elbow?
How do I get rid of tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow most often has a complete recovery with conservative measures, particularly by resting the joint and avoiding reinjury.
Tennis elbow is a self-limiting condition, typically lasting for 6 months to 2 years. Most people will fully recover within a year. However, repeated trauma or insufficient rest may aggravate the condition.
Make sure to warm up and stretch often, analyze which movements tend to hurt more, and try to avoid them as far as possible.
Is it possible to prevent tennis elbow?
Avoiding strain injury of the elbow joint can prevent tennis elbow. Tennis players can benefit from proper instruction in hitting techniques. Tennis elbow straps can be used to minimize the risk of injury to the elbow tendons.
Exercises that strengthen the involved muscles can be helpful to avoid a reoccurrence once symptoms have disappeared.
- Scans Show Brain Changes in People With Long COVID
- Got GERD? Eat This Way to Help Avoid Symptoms
- 5 Women Contracted Syphilis Affecting the Eyes From the Same Asymptomatic Man
- Long COVID Now Common in U.S. Nursing Homes
- Breathing in Coal-Based Pollution Could Be Especially Deadly: Study
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Walrod BJ. Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow). Medscape.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Lateral Epicondylitis.
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Tennis Elbow.
Top Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) Related Articles
Can Tennis Elbow Get Worse if Not Treated?Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that affects tendons in part of your elbow. Untreated tennis elbow with symptoms can lead to further damage and possible tearing.
Cortisone InjectionCortisone injections are used to treat small areas of inflammation or widespread inflammation throughout the body. There is minimal pain from these injections, and relief from the pain of inflammation occurs rapidly.
Elbow PainElbow pain is most often the result of tendinitis, which can affect the inner or outer elbow. Treatment includes ice, rest, and medication for inflammation. Inflammation, redness, warmth, swelling, tenderness, and decreased range of motion are other symptoms associated with elbow pain. Treatment for elbow pain depends upon the nature of the patient's underlying disease or condition.
How Do You Inject Lateral Epicondylitis?Lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, is a painful condition of the elbow due to its overuse or strenuous activity that causes pain in the elbow and arm. A lateral epicondyle injection is performed as an outpatient procedure. Complications include infection, tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon), nerve injury, transient increase in pain, skin discoloration, skin atrophy (wasting), hormonal imbalances, and localized osteoporosis (a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile). Rupture of the tendon because of repeated injections
How Do You Treat Tendonitis in the Elbow?Learn what medical treatments can help ease your elbow tendonitis symptoms and help you manage tendonitis in the elbow.
ibuprofenIbuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to reduce mild to moderate pain, inflammation, and fever. Ibuprofen works by blocking an enzyme that makes prostaglandin (a hormone-like substance that participates in a variety of body functions), which results in lower levels of prostaglandins in the body. Lower levels of prostaglandins reduce pain, inflammation, and fever. Ibuprofen is prescribed to treat diseases and conditions that cause mild to moderate pain, fever, and inflammation.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan)MRI (or magnetic resonance imaging) scan is a radiology technique which uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures. MRI scanning is painless and does not involve X-ray radiation. Patients with heart pacemakers, metal implants, or metal chips or clips in or around the eyes cannot be scanned with MRI because of the effect of the magnet.
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a class of drugs are used to treat inflammation, mild to moderate pain, and fever. Examples of the most common NSAIDs include: aspirin salsalate (Amigesic), diflunisal (Dolobid), ibuprofen (Motrin), ketoprofen (Orudis), nabumetone (Relafen), piroxicam (Feldene), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn,) diclofenac (Voltaren), indomethacin (Indocin), sulindac (Clinoril), tolmetin (Tolectin), etodolac (Lodine), ketorolac (Toradol), oxaprozin (Daypro), celecoxib (Celebrex).
Obesity and OverweightGet the facts on obesity and being overweight, including the health risks, causes, reviews of weight-loss diet plans, BMI chart, symptoms, causes, surgical and nonsurgical treatments, and medications.
Sports Injuries: Types, Treatments, and PreventionWeekend warriors and professionals alike all experience sports injuries. See how to prevent strains, sprains, and tears with proper form, stretching, and more.
Tennis Elbow Symptoms, Causes, and TreatmentsA tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition in which the swelling of the tendon causes pain in the elbow or arm.
What Happens if Tennis Elbow Goes Untreated?Tennis elbow is typically caused by the repeated motions of the tendons that join the muscles in the forearm to the bones. If you don't treat tennis elbow, it can become worse and lead to chronic complications.
What Is a Posterior Elbow Splint?A posterior elbow splint is affixed to the arm to stabilize a dislocated elbow. A splint is a type of a medical tool made of rigid material to immobilize a fractured or dislocated bone. A splint usually helps to maintain any part of the body in a fixed position. The most common use of splints is in emergency settings to keep a broken bone in position until it heals or until a doctor can set it with a more comprehensive procedure.
What Is Aspiration of the Olecranon Bursa?Apiration of the olecranon bursa is the drainage of fluid from the elbow joint via needle. The olecranon is the pointed bone tip of the elbow. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac at the joint that helps the skin glide over the bone. Normally, this sac has little fluid and lays flat; however, the bursa can become inflamed and fill with extra fluid, resulting in painful swelling at the tip of the elbow.
What Is Elbow Arthrocentesis?Elbow arthrocentesis is a minor procedure that involves removing the fluid (synovial fluid) from the elbow joint cavity through a needle (aspiration) The aspirated fluid is then sent to a lab for further analysis. This aspirated fluid helps to diagnose the cause of elbow swelling and underlying diseases. The procedure is usually done under local anesthesia and causes mild pain. Patients are usually discharged on the same day.
What Is the Fastest Way to Cure Tennis Elbow?The fastest way to cure tennis elbow includes taking prescribed medication and self-care measures, including tennis elbow exercises that strengthen your muscles.