Lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, Is a painful condition involving the tendons that attach to the bone on the outside (lateral) part of the elbow. Tendons transmit a muscle force to the bone.

Tendons transmit a muscles force to the bone. The muscle involved in this condition, the extensor carpi radialis brevis, helps to straighten and stabilize the wrist.

With lateral epicondylitis, there is degeneration of the tendons attachment, weakening the anchor site and placing greater stress on the area. This can lead to pain associated with activities in which this muscle is active, such as lifting, gripping and/or grasping. Sports such as tennis are commonly associated with this, but the problem can occur with many different activities.

With tennis elbow, some patients will find that their symptoms go away spontaneously within a year. For others, both surgical and non-surgical treatments are available. Non-surgical treatments will almost always be considered first.

These can include:

Activity modification: Initially, the activity causing the condition should be limited. Modifying grips or techniques, such as use of a different size racket in tennis, may relieve the problem.

Medication: Anti-inflammatory medications may help alleviate the pain.

Brace: A tennis elbow brace, a band worn over the muscle of the forearm just below the elbow, can reduce the tension on the tendon and allow it to heal.

Physical therapy: Stretching and/or strengthening exercises, ultrasound, or heat treatments may help the pain.

Steroid injections: A steroid is a strong anti-inflammatory medication that can be injected into the area.

Autologous blood injections (ABI) or platelet rich plasma

(PRP): This includes withdrawing blood from an uninjured site and reinjecting it into the area of the lateral epicondyle. This therapy is a major focus of new research and offers some promise.

Surgery is only considered when the pain is incapacitating and has not responded to other treatments, and when symptoms have lasted six to 12 months. Surgery involves removing the diseased, degenerated tendon tissue. The surgery would be performed in an outpatient setting.

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