What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is also known as lateral epicondylitis and is a chronic degenerative condition affecting the tendons on the outer part of the elbow. It is often caused by tendon overuse and aggravated by extending the wrist especially when the elbow is straight such as lifting bags with the palm facing downwards and in my experience is uncommonly seen in tennis players. The condition often starts with pain and tenderness over the outer bony part of the elbow and if left untreated can develop into constant pain that radiates down the forearm.
How to treat tennis elbow?
There are many safe and effective non-surgical treatments for tennis elbow depending on the severity and duration of symptoms. These include:
- Rest – Avoid lifting heavy objects with the arm extended. When lifting objects in the hand, keep the elbow close to your body and have your palm facing up.
- Painkillers – Simple paracetamol and anti-inflammatory medications can help
- Forearm strap – Firm but not too tight
- Physiotherapy –Eccentric stretching program
- PRP (Platelet rich plasma) or Autologous blood injections
Cortisone injections are generally not recommended as they can prolong the duration of symptoms although can provide short term relief.
Surgical treatments include:
- Arthroscopic or open tennis elbow surgery
Surgery is often performed as a day case procedure under general anaesthetic. You are able to use your arm soon after the procedure for light day to day activities within 1-2 days. A period of physiotherapy is recommended following surgery and may take unto 3 months for a full recovery.
What is Golfer’s elbow?
Golfer’s elbow is also known as medial epicondylitis and is a chronic degenerative condition affecting the tendon as they attach to the inside part of the elbow. It often causes pain and tenderness over the bony part of the inner elbow and can radiate down the forearm. The condition is often aggravated by bending the wrist and strong gripping activities.
The treatment for Golfer’s elbow is similar to Tennis elbow as discussed above, with a different exercise programme targeting stretching of the different group of muscles and tendons affected by Golfer’s elbow.