Tennis elbow/lateral epicondylitis/ is a painful condition of the outer part of the elbow joint. This common but painful condition is caused by an inflammatory reaction of the ligament attachments of forearm muscles which bend the wrist and hand upwards (extensors). Epicondyle is a bony projection of the bone of the upper arm that can be well palpable on the outer and inner part of the elbow. This is where muscles of the forearm are attached.
Lateral epicondylitis is also called tennis elbow. It usually affects tennis players and can be caused by irregular impact playing, wrong technique of the shot and wrong equipment.
It´s a paradox that it very often occurs in non-sportsmen after various repeated activities which overload muscles of the forearm, for example painting a room, assembling furniture or cutting trees. It is sometimes triggered after an ordinary bump of the outer part of the elbow against a wall or doorframe. This is how contusion and rupture of the ligament attachments of the forearm occur, followed by a defense inflammatory mechanism with pain. Although tennis elbow can occur at any age, it most commonly affects people aged 35-50 and it affects both genders equally.
Complex conservative treatment brings results in most cases:
How is the chronic pain treated?
If problems still persist for more than 6-12 months after the complex conservative treatment, surgery is recommended. The elbow joint has to be diagnosed by X-ray and MRI before the surgery.
In chronic cases, the elbow joint where the inflammation persists is also often damaged. In such cases surgery for pressure alleviation in the tendon and remove the damaged tissue is followed by an arthroscopic operation of the elbow joint. Sport activities can be started 3-5 months after the surgery. Before starting the full sports activity the weakened muscles of the forearm have to be stretched and strengthened.