Causes of Lateral Epicondylitis

While you may not have heard about its technical term, “Lateral epicondylitis”, you sure are familiar with the medical condition known as “tennis elbow”, right?  If you’ve experienced it, you know that it is a painful condition of the bony “knob” on the outside of the elbow. It makes things such as making a fist, gripping an object, lifting an object, opening a door, shaking hands, straightening your risk, and even raising your wrist difficult and quite painful.

While tennis elbow is similar to golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow involves the outer portion of the elbow, whereby golfer’s elbow affects the inner part of the elbow. Both though, are a result of overuse, and cause inflammation and muscle strain.

Sporting Activities that Increase the Risk of Developing Lateral epicondylitis

In accordance with its namesake, tennis is the most common sport associated with tennis elbow, but participating in other popular sporting activities also make you more at risk for developing the condition. These include

  • racquetball
  • squash
  • fencing
  • weight lifting

Occupations that Increase the Risk of Developing Tennis Elbow

While playing a lot of tennis can certainly bring on the condition so too can other activities that mimic the familiar backhand stroke of tennis. These include activities related to these occupations

  • carpenter
  • typists
  • writer
  • plumber
  • chef/sous chef
  • butchers

Hobbies that Increase the Risk of Developing Tennis Elbow

Participating in certain sports and having a certain occupation aren’t the only ways to develop tennis elbow. Some hobbies can bring on lateral epicondylitis as well, including:

  • raking leaves
  • knitting
  • painting

Treatment for Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow can heal on its own without being treated, but to speed up the healing process, your hand specialist recommends one or more of the following treatments:

  • Icing:  This helps to reduce swelling and pain. Ideally, it’s best to ice the elbow for 20 to 30 minutes every three to four hours until the pain is gone.
  • Wearing an elbow strap. By wearing an elbow strap you protect your injured tendon from further damage and strain.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medications. These are referred to an NSAIDs, and include ibuprofen and naproxen. These not only help to reduce inflammation, but also decrease pain and swelling. Always check with your physician before taking these kinds of medications as they can have side effects such as ulcers and bleeding.  In some cases, aspirin may be helpful.
  • Engaging in physical therapy. This helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles, as well as improve range of motion to increase flexibility and stiffness.
  • Get injections. Steroid injections or painkiller injections given by a hand doctor. can ease your pain and joint swelling.

In some cases, if your symptoms haven’t improved within a year with the above conservative methods, you may be a candidate for surgery that involves a hand surgeon removing damaged tissue.

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