The elbow joint consists of the upper arm bone and the tone bones of the forearm. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments hold the joint together. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is inflammation of the tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the bones.
Tennis elbow is often caused by damage to a specific forearm muscle.
Repetitive use of the ECRB (extensor carpi radialis brevis) muscle of the forearm can cause microscopic tears in the tendons, leading to inflammation and pain. The downstroke in tennis or other racquet sports can directly aggravate this muscle. Other individuals who work in repetitive motions can also suffer, such as painters, plumbers, carpenters, and chefs.
Immediately after the injury, patients typically experience pain on either side of the knee, swelling and knee instability. If it is an MCL injury, the pain is on the inside of the knee, and an LCL injury may cause pain on the outside of the knee.
Rest: patients should not play the aggravating sport or use the injured side for work
- Anti-inflammatory NSAIDs: Can reduce inflammation and pain
- A brace can be prescribed to stabilize and rest the muscles and tendons
- Physical therapy: Specific exercise and therapy can stretch and strengthen the muscles of the forearm
- Cortisone injections: Can reduce inflammation and pain in the targeted area
Equipment check: If the patient is a tennis or racquet sport player, adjustments may be made that improve movement of the joint and supporting muscles and tendons.
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