Since we’re coming up on the U.S. Open tennis tournament, it’s seems apropos to have a blog about tennis elbow. This inflammation of the tendons in the elbow can make it painful to shake hands, turn a doorknob, or even hold a coffee cup.
At Elite Plastic Surgery, we can diagnose and treat tennis elbow, usually with conservative methods. However, occasionally surgery may be necessary.
What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow is a painful condition that comes from the tendons around the elbow being overused. The pain of tennis elbow primarily occurs where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow. The pain can spread from there into the forearm and wrist.
Although named for tennis players, certain jobs can also lead to this inflammation. Repetitive motions are to blame, and so tennis elbow can be a problem for plumbers, painters, carpenters, and butchers.
What are the causes of tennis elbow?
The inflammation of tennis elbow is due to the repeated contraction of the forearm muscles that you use to straighten and raise your hand and wrist. The repeated use and stress can lead to a series of tiny tears in the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow.
These motions can lead to tennis elbow:
- Playing tennis, particularly with back form on the backhand
- Manually driving screws
- Cutting up meat
- Repetitive use of a computer mouse
At Elite Plastic Surgery, we start with conservative treatments. Obviously rest and icing are the first treatments. Anti-inflammatory medicines and over-the-counter pain relievers are usually sufficient to manage the pain and attempt to reduce inflammation. Technique used for what you are doing, for instance using a drill to drive screws instead of manually, or changing your tennis stroke, can help.
If those methods don’t improve your pain and weakness, there are some injection options: platelet-rich plasma, prolotherapy, and even Botox. Dry needling of the tendon can also be helpful.If after 6-12 months your situation hasn’t improved, we may recommend surgery to remove the damaged tissue.