Common Injuries: What is Tennis Elbow?
This post is part of our ongoing series to educate our patients about common sports injuries and how they can be treated with our nonsurgical techniques. It’s all part of our commitment to helping you live pain free.
Tennis Elbow (also known as lateral epicondylitis) is an “overuse” injury that causes pain on the outside of the elbow, and it’s commonly seen in patients 30 – 60 years old. While this condition is typically associated with tennis, it is certainly not limited to that sport. In fact, in our Ramsey office, we see more patients develop Tennis Elbow as a result of exercise, DIY projects, baseball and (believe it or not) gardening.
What are the symptoms of Tennis Elbow?
Symptoms vary for each patient, but typically include:
- Pain or discomfort along the outside of the elbow
- Pain or difficulty with gripping objects
- Pain when twisting your forearm (for example, turning a doorknob)
- Swelling or inflammation at the outside of the elbow
What causes Tennis Elbow?
Tennis Elbow can have many different multiple causes (both sports related and not), but the one consistent factor is overuse (doing the same or similar motions repeatedly). For tennis players, the injury is caused by repeatedly hitting tennis balls with the same stroke (most commonly with a backhand stroke). Over time, this puts repeated stress on the muscles that attach to the outside of the elbow, causing pain and discomfort.
Importantly though, this condition can be caused by many other activities – especially those with repetitive elbow, arm and wrist movements. That’s why many of the patients we treat for Tennis Elbow pain management are gardeners, landscapers, contractors, carpenters, house cleaners and construction workers.
How is Tennis Elbow diagnosed?
Tennis Elbow is a relatively easy condition to diagnose, thanks to our specialized staff and state-of-the-art medical office in Ramsey, NJ. We’ll start with a discussion about your pain and symptoms, and then one of our trained and certified physicians will examine your arm. Usually, that is all that’s needed to identify your condition, though sometimes a diagnostic Ultrasound may be recommended to confirm the diagnosis. Thankfully, an Ultrasound is painless, uses no radiation, and is performed right in our Ramsey office – no need for a referral or follow up visit!
In rare cases, we might recommend an X-Ray or MRI to rule out other causes of elbow pain, but we’ll be sure to carefully evaluate and explain all your options.
How is Tennis Elbow treated?
Would you believe that the treatment for Tennis Elbow usually begins with rice? It’s true! But not just any rice – we’re talking about RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).
(R)esting the elbow to allow the tendons to heal.
( I)ce should be applied 20 minutes every hour to help bring down swelling and reduce pain.
(C)ompression can be done with an elastic bandage or an over-the-counter strap.
(E)levation of the arm also helps to reduce swelling.
Further treatment options include anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and injections. These treatment options vary for each patient, and our specialized sports medicine physicians will discuss and determine the most effective and least invasive treatment for your situation.
If physical therapy is recommended, we’ll start by focusing on pain reduction. As your pain improves, we’ll introduce customized exercises that stretch and strengthen the affected muscles.
If necessary, we offer several different injections to treat Tennis Elbow. Most commonly, we’ll use a cortisone injection to help with the pain and inflammation, but we also offer an exciting advancement in the treatment of Tennis Elbow: regenerative medicine.
One example of our regenerative treatments is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections – which involves using the healing and growth factors from your own blood and injecting them into the damaged tendon. We’re very excited about this technique, as it has shown tremendous success in treating Tennis Elbow. Beyond PRP Injections, we have other regenerative medicine treatments including Stem Cell or Amniotic Cell Injections that have a remarkable effect on the healing of damaged tissue.
All of the above treatments are performed in our state-of-the-art medical facility in Ramsey, NJ – so there’s no need for multiple referrals or physicians. In fact, no other medical facility in Bergen County offers everything we do!
At Progressive Spine and Sports Medicine, we specialize in nonsurgical pain management, and Tennis Elbow is just one of the many injuries we diagnose and treat in our Ramsey, NJ medical center. For more information, please see our full list of our nonsurgical services, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.
We look forward to being your #1 solution for nonsurgical pain treatment.