Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is an injury that can typically result from microtrauma (repeated continual small stress over a period of time) or macrotrauma (a large stress applied at one time) to the elbow. Tennis elbow is an extremely common injury that appears on the outside (lateral) aspect of the forearm. This injury is not to be confused with pain on the inside (medial) aspect of the forearm (Golfer's elbow). Tennis elbow commonly appears within the tennis playing population, but is an injury that presents in a population of people who do not play tennis at all. Tennis elbow occurs most commonly in the tendon of the Extensor Carpi Brevis muscle, which is located approximately two centimeters below the outer edge of the elbow joint or lateral epicondyle of the humerus.
Tennis elbow can be caused by a poor technique when playing tennis, or any other repetitive strain caused by repeated wrist or finger extension (bending back) against resistance-e.g. using a keyboard on a computer.
When assessing for tennis elbow, cervical, shoulder, and elbow joint pathologies must be tested for to provide a comprehensive assessment resulting in an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment of Tennis elbow is individualized depending on the lifestyle, activity level and condition of the individual. Treatment techniques for Tennis elbow include, identifying the aggravating activity, modifying the activity, icing to decrease the inflammation, soft tissue mobilization, stretching, strengthening, bracing or taping, ultrasound, iontophoresis, and if conservative treatment does not work, there may be a call for a corticosteroid injection to the area.
For each individual’s Tennis elbow pain, treatment will be modified for their individual level of pain and lifestyle. Sufferers of Tennis elbow must consider that this injury is a highly irritable condition. Symptoms may be steadily improving and then with one aggravation, usually involving some form of resisted wrist extension,the condition will can return in full force.