Tennis elbow refers to a repetitive use disorder causing recurring pain on the outside of the elbow.
While this condition is all too familiar to experienced tennis players, the majority of cases actually seem to be related to work or recreational activities that involve repetitive use of the forearm muscle, or wrist & hand. (1)(2) This painful and sometimes debilitating elbow condition has been connected with many activities:
The technical name for this condition is lateral epicondylalgia (which literally means pain over the bony spot on the outside of your elbow). A more accurate description of the condition would be to say that the body’s natural process of healing and rebuilding is not keeping up with the demands of the given activity.
This new understanding also has treatment implications. Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylalgia) is not a simple inflammation that can be chased away with anti-inflammatories such as aspirin. Masking the pain can be asking for trouble. This condition is often precipitated by poor mechanics and technique or improper equipment in the athletic patient population. (3)
While individualized treatment will be determined by numerous variables, it helps to develop a healthy and safe plan to improve the conditioning of the involved structures so that you can safely and effectively return to your desired activities. For patients who do not improve with initial treatment, various physical and occupational therapies can be helpful. Patients who fail to follow through on their therapy plan frequently have a recurrence of symptoms.
Treatment may include: