At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, where our doctors focus on non-invasive methods of elbow pain relief and increased mobility, we have successfully diagnosed and treated many cases of tennis elbow. If you are suffering the discomfort and restriction of this condition, make an appointment at one of our convenient offices for a comprehensive evaluation by our talented medical specialists. The more quickly you do, the more quickly we can help to accelerate the healing process.

Like other injuries with nicknames — tennis elbow is not inextricably linked to the sport it is named for. Scientifically called “lateral epicondylitis,” tennis elbow is a form of tendonitis — an inflammation of the tendons of the forearm that attach to the bony portion of the outer elbow (epicondyle).

Noninvasive Treatment Almost Always Solves the Problem

As with any painful injury that interferes with your normal routine, tennis elbow may make you anxious, fearing that the damage may be permanent and that you will have to give up some of your most enjoyable activities and/or live with persistent pain. Take heart — the vast majority of patients with tennis elbow recover completely with conservative treatment.

Causes of Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is considered an overuse, muscle strain injury caused by the repeated contraction of the muscles of the forearm. Repeated movements can stress tissue and result in small tears in your tendons. Although playing tennis may be a cause of tennis elbow (particularly if your strokes are executed improperly), patients often suffer the injury as a result of:

  • Using plumbing tools, such as wrenches, daily
  • Painting, either walls or artwork
  • Doing carpentry, especially driving in screws
  • Butchering or cutting up dense vegetables 
  • Doing prolonged and/or frequent work at the computer
  • Playing tennis or swimming, golfing, engaging in batting practice
  • Heavy lifting, gardening, sweeping, or scrubbing

As you can see, tennis elbow pain can be caused by many of the activities common to our everyday lives, whether we play tennis or not.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of tennis elbow are pain and weakness. The pain typically radiates from the outside of the elbow into the forearm and wrist. Patients report difficulty doing the following tasks:

  • Shaking hands 
  • Gripping an object, especially a heavy one
  • Turning a doorknob
  • Holding a coffee cup
  • Lifting or carrying anything with the affected hand

While tennis elbow may seem to be a mild injury, it can seriously interfere with a broad range of motions we normally take for granted, interfering with our productivity at the workplace or in our own homes.

Diagnosis of Tennis Elbow

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we pride ourselves on our diagnostic capabilities, both in terms of our comprehensive knowledge of musculoskeletal conditions and our cutting-edge equipment. If we suspect that your problem is tennis elbow, we may use one or more of the following diagnostic tests to evaluate or verify your condition:

  • X-rays to discover whether you have arthritis in your elbow
  • Diagnostic ultrasound to directly visualize the soft tissues and tendon integrity at the elbow region
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to show soft tissue (tendon, ligament, cartilage) damage as well as bone damage
  • Electromyography (EMG) of your elbow to show any nerve problems 

Our doctors are well aware that to treat you successfully we must understand precisely what is causing your pain.

Treatment of Tennis Elbow

Our physiatrists (MDs specially trained to relieve pain and restore function) have numerous methods of non-invasive treatments at our disposal. By the time most of our patients come to us for help, most of them have tried rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers. One important recommendation we usually make is to modify their activity so that they’re not continuing to aggravate their symptoms while their body is attempting to heal. 

Other treatments that frequently make our patients more comfortable and improve their range of motion include: 

  • Use of an forearm strap  and possibly a wrist brace 
  • Physical therapy focusing on shoulder and elbow stabilization exercises
  • Acupuncture
  • Ultrasound-guided injections of corticosteroid and analgesics at the site
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy
  • PEMF – pulsed electromagnetic field therapy

We will always take the time to explain the available options and involve you in the decision-making process regarding your treatment since we believe that treatments work best when patients feel confident about their efficacy.

Risk factors

Although anyone can develop symptoms of tennis elbow, the following factors may predispose you to the injury:

  • Being between the ages of 30 and 50
  • Having an occupation that requires repetitive motions of the wrist as described earlier, such as being a plumber, painter, gardener, butcher, carpenter, or someone who works at a computer for long periods
  • Engaging in racket sports regularly

Of course, just because you are in one of the above categories does not mean that you will develop tennis elbow. Similarly, the fact that you are not doesn’t mean that you will never suffer from elbow related pain. 

Contact Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine Today — Start Feeling Better ASAP

In our experience, many patients wait too long to contact us. This procrastination not only delays relief of pain; it frequently results in a worsening of the condition that makes healing take longer. Why not avoid these negatives and call us for an appointment today? Remember, the sooner you contact our skilled professionals, the sooner you will be back in the swing of things.