Lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, is usually associated with overuse of the arm, forearm, and hand muscles resulting in pain of the outer aspect of the elbow. This pain often goes from the outer part of the elbow to the forearm muscles near the elbow. Lateral epicondylitis is associated with overuse of the muscles that attach via a small tendon to the outside of the elbow, also known as the lateral epicondyle. The telltale symptoms include pain and or weakness with gripping activities, or pain when you lift something with your palm down. This injury is common in people who play a lot of tennis or other racquet sports, hence the name “tennis elbow,” although many people who don’t play racquet sports often develop similar symptoms.
Some of the causes of tennis elbow include increased stress placed on these muscles by over-gripping the tennis racquet or by failing to hit the ball in the sweet spot of the racquet which creates higher levels of vibration forces to the arm; especially during a backhand swing. But any activities that involve repetitive activities of the wrist and forearm can lead to lateral epicondylitis; especially the combination of gripping and twisting such as using a screwdriver. Butcher, construction workers, painters, cooks, and plumbers are also at higher risk for developing elbow pain. If the pain is on the inner side of the elbow it is referred to as medial epicondylitis or golfers’ elbow.
What Can You Do If You Develop Lateral Epicondylitis?
The good news is that most of the time lateral epicondylitis resolves in 4-6 weeks with proper treatment. Rest from the offending activity and ice play a big role in decreasing symptoms. One trick to help your muscles rest is to pick up things with your palm up, which decreases the amount of stress to the wrist extensors. Sometimes a special brace that straps around the forearm muscles helps you keep from overusing the forearm muscles. Physical therapy can play a role in helping to speed up the recovery process, and modalities such as the 830Laser may be used to help decrease pain and inflammation, and help speed up the healing process.
What Most People Don’t Know About Lateral Epicondylitis
Even if your elbow pain seems to be a classic case of lateral epicondylitis, it’s important to consider other structures that may contribute to your pain. Is your elbow pain from excessive time on the keyboard causing an overuse injury to the muscles? or is it an irritation of the nerve that crosses over the elbow joint because of poor posture while keyboarding? is poor posture causing neck problems that affect the nerves in the arm? Sometimes lateral epicondylitis doesn’t completely resolve because other contributing factors are not addressed. It’s important to find the true source of pain, and not just treat the symptoms.
If you are having elbow pain, call us to schedule a free phone consultation to see if you are a candidate for one of our programs.