Published: Nov. 11, 2010
Updated: Dec. 29, 2010
Tennis elbow is a common condition that affects the outer part of the elbow, causing pain and inflammation. Tennis elbow is a form of tendonitis, and similar to golfer's elbow, which affects the inner side of the elbow.
Overuse of the arm and forearm muscles causes tennis elbow. Repeated stress on the muscle tissues may result in inflammation or tiny tears in the tendons that attach the muscles in the forearm to the bone at the bone at the outside of the elbow.
The condition does not only affect tennis and other racquet athletes; it affects those who participate in recreational or work activities that require repetitive elbow, arm, and wrist movement.
Tennis elbow is characterized by pain in the outer part of the elbow, which can radiate into the forearm and wrist.
Pain increases when the wrist is actively extended, or during gripping or squeezing activities, such as holding a coffee cup, shaking hands, and opening a jar. Other symptoms include stiffness and tenderness in the affected area.
Typically, pain is aggravated by extending the elbow, turning the palm towards the floor, and flexing the wrist, such as when you stretch out your arm to pick up an object from the floor.
A physical exam by your doctor will properly diagnose the condition. A physical exam will rule out the possibility of an underlying condition, such as a broken bone or nerve condition, allowing your doctor to provide appropriate treatment.
If untreated, the chronic pain associated with this condition will persist. Rest, avoidance of activities using the elbow, and the application of cold compresses will help relieve symptoms.
Your doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone injections, or physical therapy.
Duke Orthopaedics treats tennis elbow at locations throughout North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.
Watch an educational video about treatment for tennis elbow.