A painful overuse injury, tennis elbow is characterized by inflammation of the tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the elbow.
Although it’s very common among avid tennis players, anyone who uses their forearm and elbow repetitively is susceptible to this injury as well. Interesting that only 5% of people with this condition actually play tennis! Often it’s an overuse injury from repetitive activity and stress.
Understanding tennis elbow
To understand how tennis elbow affects the body, it’s important to first understand the anatomy of your elbow joint. This critical structure is comprised of three important bones:
- The humerus (in the upper arm)
- The radius (in the forearm)
- The ulna (in the forearm)
Various muscles, tendons and ligaments surround these bones and stabilize your elbow joint. The tendons in your forearm are called extensors, and they attach the muscle to the bone. When you’re suffering from tennis elbow, these are the tendons that are inflamed and damaged.
Who is at risk for tennis elbow?
While it’s true that tennis elbow very frequently affects tennis players, anyone who participates in sports or activities that require repetitive wrist, forearm and elbow movements is at risk for this type of injury. For example, it’s not at all uncommon for baseball players, golfers, bowlers, carpenters, landscapers and mechanics to be diagnosed with tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow tends to affect the dominant hand, and the symptoms are often worse with any activity that requires the use of your forearm. Some of the most common signs of this injury include:
- Pain on the outside of the elbow
- Pain that worsens when gripping or squeezing objects or shaking hands
- Decreased grip strength
At the Orthohealing Center, we can diagnose tennis elbow among our Beverly Hills patients with a physical examination and a discussion about your lifestyle. To begin, we’ll ask you questions about your symptoms and if you have any occupational or recreational risk factors. From there, we will physically examine your elbow joint, asking you to straighten your wrist against resistance to see if this movement causes pain. If it does, it’s a sign that you’re suffering from tennis elbow.
Often a state-of-the-art musculoskeletal ultrasound can be used to dynamically image the elbow and access the degree of damage and tearing. Rarely we may order an MRI to exclude the possibility of a herniated disc in your neck or to obtain further info regarding your cartilage and bone.
Innovative treatment for your tennis elbow
Once we have determined that tennis elbow is indeed the underlying cause of your pain, we will compose a custom treatment regimen that is designed to deliver long-lasting relief from your discomfort, while restoring optimal function.
Because most of our Los Angeles patients have already attempted to treat their injury with conservative measures like rest and over-the-counter pain relievers, we’ll skip those approaches. Instead, we’ll begin with regenerative therapies that can expedite the healing process and get you on your way towards a full recovery.
In addressing tendon injuries like tennis elbow, our physiatrists at the Orthohealing Center have had incredible success with platelet-rich plasma therapy. Our staff were co-authors in the world’s largest PRP multi-center controlled tennis elbow study This approach relieves pain and improves your function over time, so you can continue to perform at your former level. In addition, prolotherapy and ultrasound guided needling/percutaneous needle tenotomy also show very promising results in treating this chronic tendon injury. During your initial consultation, we will review all of these approaches with you, before offering personalized guidance regarding which one is in your best interest.