Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

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Lateral epicondylitis, more commonly known as tennis elbow, is a painful elbow condition caused by repetitive overuse. The condition is caused when the extensor tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle become inflamed and damaged from overuse, aging or traumatic injury. The injury leads to pain and tenderness located on the outside of the joint. Dr. Jervis Yau, orthopedic elbow specialist, is highly experienced at treating tennis elbow and returning Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California patients back to their activities without pain.

Tennis elbow is the most common cause of lateral elbow pain in adults between the ages of 25-55.  Despite the name, most patients who develop lateral epicondylitis never play tennis.

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) Symptoms

Lateral epicondylitis is marked by pain and burning on the outer portion of the elbow joint. Weak grip strength is another common tennis elbow symptom. The symptoms are usually worsened with activities such as playing a racquet sport, shaking hands or turning a door handle or wrench.

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Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) Diagnosis

Lateral epicondylitis is a clinical diagnosis based on history and physical exam. Dr. Yau will review the onset of symptoms, sports participation and occupational risk factors.  If necessary,  x-rays and MRI may be performed to rule out other possible injuries and assess for the severity of tendon degeneration.

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) Treatment

Non-Surgical

It is estimated 80-95% of patients experience alleviated tennis elbow symptoms with conservative treatment. This typically includes a combination of activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), and physical therapy focusing on stretching and eccentric strengthening exercises. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections have also been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of tennis elbow.

Surgical

Surgery may be indicated if symptoms do not respond to non-surgical measures within 6-12 months. Surgical intervention, also known as an elbow epicondylitis, may include percutaneous debridement of the diseased tissue under ultrasound guidance for mild to moderate tendon degeneration (Tenex Health) and open debridement and repair for more severe tendon degeneration and high-grade tears.

To learn more about lateral epicondylitis, or to discuss your tennis elbow symptoms and treatment options, please contact the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California orthopedic office of elbow specialist Dr. Jervis Yau.

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