Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Tennis elbow remains the most common cause of elbow pain. It occurs in people of all ages and activity levels and often has nothing to do with playing tennis. The pain is centered on the outer aspect of the elbow over the bony prominence known as the lateral epicondyle. Tennis elbow is not an inflammatory condition of the elbow, but rather a ‘wear and tear’ problem of one of the small wrist extensor tendons (extensor carpi radialis brevis) that originates on the lateral epicondyle. Patients experience pain with wrist extension, with firmly grasping objects (such as a tight handshake) and with twisting movements (opening jars and doorknobs). The symptoms of tennis elbow can range in severity from very mild, to extremely severe and painful.

Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) Diagram

Most cases of tennis elbow can be effectively treated nonoperatively. The mainstay of treatment involves bracing (tennis elbow straps and wrist splints) and physical therapy. Anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone injections are often used for pain control, although tennis elbow is not a true ‘inflammation’ of the tendons. The goal of non-operative treatment is to allow the tendon to heal, which will improve your symptoms. Surgery can be used in recalcitrant cases after a failure of non-operative treatment, but is usually only performed after several months of non-operative treatment. Dr. Walker will help you make the best decision for your care.