Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Skilled workers, such as carpenters, painters, and plumbers, are prone to repetitive use injuries, including tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), which can be caused by overuse of the forearm.
Tennis elbow is a painful condition. It is an inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. Making the same forearm motion repeatedly can lead to pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow.
The elbow joint is made up of three bones, the humerus (upper arm) and the radius and ulna (forearm bones). The epicondyles are the bony bumps at the bottom of the humerus and on the outside of the elbow. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments hold the joint together. Tennis elbow involves the muscles and tendons in your forearm. As the elbow bends and straightens, the muscle rubs against bony bumps, which, over time, can cause gradual wear of the muscle. The dominant arm is typically most affected by tennis elbow.
Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain, which begins mildly and worsens over weeks or months; pain or a burning sensation on the outer part of the elbow; and, weak grip strength. Symptoms can worsen with forearm activity.
To diagnose tennis elbow, a physician will discuss with the patient their symptoms, medical history, and occupational risk factors. The physician will access the injury and perform a variety of tests that will involve manipulating the elbow. Additional imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, may be necessary to rule out other conditions.
Treatment options for tennis elbow involves a team approach from the primary doctor, physical therapist, and possibly the surgeon, to provide the most effective care.
Non-surgical treatment is recommended in about 80 to 95% of the patients with tennis elbow. Non-surgical treatment includes rest from sports or work activities that involve the arm; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen; a brace, used over the back of the forearm to rest the muscles and tendons and reduce symptoms; steroid medication injected in the the damaged muscle; and, physical therapy exercises to strengthen the forearm muscles.
If non-surgical treatment does not work after six to 12 months, your physician may recommend surgical treatment if the benefits outweigh the risks. Surgical treatments can include open surgery, which is involves making an incision over the elbow or arthroscopic surgery, which involves using tiny instruments through a small incision in the elbow.
If you live in South Carolina and have tennis elbow as the result from a workplace repetitive injury, contact the Trammell Law Firm, a firm that specializes in personal injury, worker’s compensation, social security disability and product and premise liability.