Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is an inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. The forearm muscles and tendons become damaged from overuse – repeating the same motions again and again. Playing tennis or other racquet sports can cause this condition, however, several other sports and activities can also put you at risk.
Tennis elbow is often due to damage to a specific forearm muscle called the extensor capri radials brevis. This muscle helps stabilize the wrist when the elbow is straight. When weakened from overuse, microscopic tears form in the tendon where it attaches to the lateral epicondyle, leading to inflammation and pain.
The symptoms of tennis elbow develop gradually. In most cases, the pain begins as mild and slowly worsens over weeks and months. No specific injury is usually associated with the onset of symptoms. Common signs of tennis elbow include:
- Pain or burning on the outer part of the elbow
- Weak grip strength
- Symptoms that worsen with forearm activity
OKC Orthopedics Sports Medicine is committed to helping patients with tennis elbow return to the highest level of activity possible. Our team of orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and athletic trainers work together to tailor a treatment plan to each patient’s needs and goals.
There are many treatment options for tennis elbow, and in most cases, involve a team approach. While most patients have success with non-surgical treatments, surgery may be recommended if symptoms to do not improve after 6-12 months. Our orthopedic surgeons are experts in elbow arthroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure in which small instruments and a thin, flexible medical device with a camera pass through an incision the size of a small Band-Aid. After surgery, our physical therapists guide each patient through a personalized rehabilitation program to restore strength and mobility.