Tennis elbow is inflammation on the outside of the elbow where the tendons insert into the elbow bone, and is a common condition in those who overuse their arms. Tendons are tough bands of tissue that connect muscle to bone. The medical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis, which means inflammation at the bony prominence on the outer side of the elbow.
Your elbow joint is made up of three bones. The bony bump on the outside or lateral side on your elbow is called the lateral epicondyle. Tennis elbow is an inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the lateral epicondyle.
The cause of tennis elbow isrepeated contraction of the forearm muscles that are used to straighten and raise the hand and wrist. The repeated motion and stress to the tissue may result in a series of tiny tears in the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the bone at the outside of your elbow. Many common arm motions can cause tennis elbow such as playing tennis, as the name suggests, or people who work in professions such as carpentry, painting, or plumbing.
Common signs of tennis elbow usually include pain or burning on the outer part of your elbow, as well as weak grip strength. These symptoms usually feel worse with forearm activity such as holding a racquet, turning a wrench, or shaking hands. Your dominant arm is most often affected.
To diagnosis tennis elbow, the doctor will need to do a thorough medical exam. He or she will most likely need to order a diagnostic test, such as an x-ray to rule out any other possible cause.
Physical therapy can help to speed up the healing time for tennis elbow. Specific exercises are helpful for strengthening the muscles of the forearm. Your therapist may also perform ultrasound, ice, massage, or muscle-stimulating techniques to improve muscle healing. They can also help you in choosing an arm brace that may help alleviate some of your pain by helping the muscles and tendons to rest.