What Causes Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow, which is technically called lateral epicondylitis, occurs when the tendons and muscles located in your forearm become strained as a result of strenuous or repetitive activities.

Tennis Elbow Prevalence

Up to 50 percent of people who play tennis get tennis elbow sometime during their careers, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Of the population on the whole, about one to three percent of people develop it.  Men develop the condition more often than women. It affects more people in the 30 to 50 age group than other age groups, though any person of any age can develop it.

When you have this condition, you experience tenderness and pain on the outside of your elbow. Your elbow pain can range from mild to severe. You’ll find that you experience pain when:

  • Gripping small things.
  • Writing.
  • Bending your arm
  • Lifting objects.
  • Twisting your forearm
  • Keeping your arm fully extended.

Common Occupations and Activities That Make You Prone

Athletes and workers who engage in activities that involve repetitive elbow, wrist and arm movements are especially prone to it. Examples of people who may be affected more frequently include:

  • Tennis players
  • Racquetball players
  • Bowlers
  • Baseball players
  • Golfers
  • Landscaping workers
  • Carpentry workers
  • Mechanics
  • Housekeepers and Janitorial workers
  • Assembly line workers
  • Bricklaying
  • Painting
  • Cutting with scissors
  • Typing on the computer

You are more likely to be affected by the condition if your forearm muscles aren’t used to performing a certain activity. So, playing certain sports for the first time in a long while, for example, can increase your risk of getting lateral epicondylitis.

How Tennis Elbow Develops

If the tendons and muscles in your forearm become strained due to overuse or repetitive movements, inflammation and minuscule tears can occur along the bony lump (called the lateral epicondyle) located on the outside of your elbow.

Tennis Elbow Treatment

A flare up of tennis elbow can take a long time to cover. Most people make a full recovery in under 12 months, but some people deal with the condition for up to two years.

Initial treatment from the doctors of Florida Hand Center is conservative and includes modifying your activities, wearing a brace, and participating in occupational therapy. We may suggest using heat, ice, topical creams or anti-inflammatory medications.

When these conventional treatments don’t resolve your symptoms, we may use cortisone injections (for those who didn’t respond to occupational therapy). Surgery is only considered as a treatment method if your pain is incapacitating, your symptoms have lasted more than six months, and you have not responded to conservative, non-surgical treatments.

Contact us here at the Florida Hand Center if you suspect you have tennis elbow.