Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a common disorder among racquet-sport participants – affecting nearly 50% of all regular tennis players. Although common in racquet-sports, tennis elbow has affected participants of other sports including gymnastics, swimming, baseball, golf, etc.
The term, "tennis elbow" refers to pain on the bony prominence (the lateral epicondyle) located on the outer side of the elbow. This soreness is usually accompanied by decreased grip strength and pain during gripping. If left untreated, the pain will gradually get worse, as well as cause increased weakness in the hand and wrist.
Tennis elbow is thought to be the result of "overuse" or "misuse" of the wrist extensor muscle group. Originating on the lateral epicondyle, the wrist extensors generate a large amount of force when in use. Consequently, overuse tends to irritate/inflame the area. For instance, a backhand stroke has been known to increase tennis elbow symptoms due to the increased use of wrist extensors.
Relieving Tennis Elbow Pain
- Rest the elbow; avoid activities that cause pain
- Ice the area in 15 to 20 minute increments, several times per day
- Use a compression wrap or neoprene sleeve to help relieve pain
- Control pain and inflammation with an oral anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin. (Before starting these or any other medications, please consult with your physician.)
- Stretch and strengthen the muscle groups of the elbow
These suggestions should help to manage your pain. When symptoms subside, you can gradually return to activity. However, if there is no improvement within a few weeks or your pain becomes worse – despite self-treatment, contact your doctor.
For additional questions on tennis elbow or other sports medicine topics, call the Aurora Sports Medicine Hotline™ at (414) 219-7776 or (800) 219-7776.