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Tennis Elbow

A condition well known for affecting tennis players, tennis elbow affects muscles and tendons in the forearm that are attached to the bone on the outside of the elbow. While people who play tennis and other racquet sports are indeed at risk, tennis elbow can affect people involved in a variety of sporting activities and work environments: pounding a hammer repeatedly, typing on a computer keyboard without proper support, or twisting your wrist the same over and over.

What causes Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is one of the most common types of injuries that affects the tendons, called tendinitis. It is an overuse injury where repetitive use of the forearm muscle results in pain on the outside of the elbow. Athletes involved in weightlifting or throwing sports, workers such as painters and plumbers, or anyone engaged in vigorous use of the forearm are particularly susceptible to tennis elbow.

How do you know you have Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow symptoms typically develop slowly, with increasing levels of pain as time goes on, and are present most often in the dominant arm. Common signs include:

  • Pain centered around the outer part of your elbow
  • Burning
  • Weakness in gripping

How does OSI fix Tennis Elbow?

Board-certified OSI orthopedic specialists will listen to your symptoms and discuss your recent and recurring activities to determine if something you’ve been doing may be attributed to your pain. They will then examine you to verify you are indeed suffering from tennis elbow. You can expect some, or all, of the following: 

  • Physical exam. Your OSI doctor will perform a careful examination of your arm, fingers, and elbow, discuss activities that lead to symptoms, and ask questions about any history of injury, arthritis, or nerve disease.
  • X-rays. X-rays will allow your OSI doctor to confirm the diagnosis of tennis elbow.
  • MRI. An MRI may be ordered to check for other issues, such as neck arthritis, which can lead to arm pain.
  • Electromyography (EMG). OSI specialists use an EMG to rule out nerve compression, which mimics the symptoms of tennis elbow.

Nonsurgical Treatment

The vast majority of patients seeking relief from tennis elbow are successfully treated with nonsurgical techniques. Your OSI orthopedic specialists may recommend some or all of the following:

  • Rest. For a few weeks, you will need to stop the activities that bring about the symptoms
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, such as aspirin or ibuprofen 
  • Physical therapy
  • Bracing
  • Steroid injections

Surgical Treatment

Your OSI doctor may recommend surgery if your tennis elbow symptoms do not respond to nonsurgical approaches, usually after a period of 6 to 12 months. In many cases, minimally-invasive arthroscopic surgery is the approach.