Lateral Epicondylitis

What Is Lateral Epicondylitis?

Lateral Epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, is a common elbow injury in which the tendons on the outside of the elbow become inflamed and painful. The condition often results from overuse and usually affects adults between the ages of 30 and 50. Symptoms may include pain on the outside of the elbow while griping or lifting objects, as well as tenderness on the outside of the elbow.

Causes of Lateral Epicondylitis

The major cause of lateral epicondylitis is the repetitive use of arm muscles. Tennis and other racquet sports often cause the condition as the muscles of the forearm are used to hit the ball. Other activities such as painting, hammering and using screwdrivers can also lead to the condition. Poor technique can contribute to the risk of developing lateral epicondylitis.

Symptoms of Lateral Epicondylitis

The most common symptom of lateral epicondylitis is pain or tenderness on the outside of the elbow when straightening the arm or when gripping objects. Painful tendons may reduce the ability to grip items, such as a doorknob or a tennis racquet.

  • Pain on the outside of the elbow when gripping objects.
  • Weakness in the forearm muscles.
  • Tenderness at the outside of the elbow.
  • Pain that radiates down the forearm when the elbow is bent.

Prevention of Lateral Epicondylitis

Preventing lateral epicondylitis requires addressing any possible causes. General guidelines to reducing the risk of injury include:

  • Using proper form or technique when performing activities that could strain the elbow.
  • Stretching and warming up before physical activities.
  • Using elbow supports or braces to reduce the stress on the elbow.
  • Changing activities or taking breaks if pain occurs.

Treatment of Lateral Epicondylitis

Treatment of lateral epicondylitis depends on the severity of the condition. Generally recommended treatments include:

  • Resting the arm.
  • Taking NSAID medications, such as ibuprofen, to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises for the forearm.
  • Physical therapy for stretches and strengthening exercises.
  • Corticosteroid injections for severe pain.
  • Surgery in extreme cases.