Beyond the Courts: How Tennis Elbow Develops

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition where the tendons in your elbow are overworked and become painful. The term tennis elbow is a little deceiving though, because it can develop for a number of reasons other than sports.

No matter how your tennis elbow developed, our skilled orthopedic surgeons Dr. Brian Mehling and Dr. Pavel Yufit at Mehling Orthopedics can help you develop a treatment plan. We help you reduce the pain and get you back to your busy life.

What exactly is tennis elbow?

Your hand, forearm, and elbow are connected by tendons, ligaments, and muscles. All of these components work together to create movement in your lower arm.

The tendons that run up your forearm and connect to the bone on your elbow are the primary culprits of tennis elbow pain. This is due to the fact that this condition is caused by overuse of the muscles and tendons in your forearm. The pain and discomfort can also spread to your wrist, which may lead to other issues.

The pain of tennis elbow can also cause weakness in your arm which can make it difficult to:

If any of these things are difficult for you or cause you a lot of discomfort, it may be time to make an appointment with our surgeons to get you on the road to recovery.

Tennis elbow — the root cause of how it develops

Tennis elbow doesn't occur overnight. It's a repetitive use injury that can occur for many reasons and in many different professions. It's caused by the overuse of your forearm muscles which leads to muscle strain and pain.

The repetitive contraction of these muscles ultimately leads to small tears in your tendons that attach to the elbow. This results in discomfort and constant aching in your forearm and elbow. If you have these symptoms, it can really make your daily activities frustrating and uncomfortable.

The condition can actually be caused by playing tennis, especially if you use a backhand swing often. There are many other motions that can cause tennis elbow, including:

If you happen to be a plumber, you’re also at risk for tennis elbow because of repetitive use of plumbing tools, such as a plunger.

Treating tennis elbow

At your initial appointment, we do an exam and ask you to move your elbow and wrist in different ways to see if tennis elbow is the culprit. Usually a diagnosis can be made just from your symptoms and a physical exam. If we need more information, we may order an X-ray or other imaging studies.

Once you’re diagnosed with tennis elbow, there are many treatment options available to help ease the discomfort. If your case is mild to moderate, we may suggest lifestyle tips to ease your pain including:

If you find yourself with a severe case of tennis elbow, we may suggest more aggressive treatment options such as:

Sometimes tennis elbow goes away on its own with lifestyle modifications and rest. We take time to listen to your symptoms and generate the best individualized treatment plan for you.

If you're ready to get back on your game and rid yourself of pain, make an appointment with one of our surgeons or physician assistants today. Contact Mehling Orthopedics at one of our two offices in Hackensack, New Jersey, or West Islip, New York.

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