What Exactly is Tennis Elbow?

A tennis player tosses the ball in the air to serve it. She does not appear to have tennis elbow.

A lot of people have heard of tennis elbow, but many people do not know what it is. Tennis elbow might have a funny name, but it is not a funny condition. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is when the tendons and muscles in your elbow become weakened and inflamed. It often leads to minor tears in the tendons as well. This is often caused by repetitive motions of the arm and wrist leading to overuse.

It might be called tennis elbow, but anyone can get it. Many tennis players or golfers have such repetitive motions that it can overwork the tendons if using improper stroke technique, but construction workers, painters, plumbers, and anyone else who has a lot of repetitive arm movements are known to have a higher chance of getting tennis elbow. This is most common in middle-aged adults, but anyone can get it if they are involved in activities that may cause overuse.

The pain is often in the elbow area, hence the name, and it forms a bump on the outside of your elbow. Depending on the severity, the pain will often spread down the arm too. With this pain it makes it hard to grip everyday objects like cups or doorknobs. For many the symptoms worsen the more they use their forearms.

It is recommended that one sees a doctor if they are experiencing any of these symptoms. Once someone’s quality of life is lowered by their pain it is always a good idea to get their injury checked out. The examination to check for tennis elbow often involves a physical examination and can involve other tests like X-rays or MRIs to help rule out a different underlying condition, such as arthritis.

Most patients do not require surgery upon finding out they have tennis elbow. There are many non-surgical options to help people recover. Rest is one of the most important steps to help with the healing process. This can help reduce pain and swelling. Many people also get a brace to help relieve symptoms and minimize movement. Steroid injections and Stem cell injections are also ways that people can have some more relief faster than they otherwise might.

If it is determined that surgery is the answer there are a couple of different methods. Some surgeons choose to do an open approach which involves an incision over the elbow, and others do the surgery arthroscopically which involves small incisions and a small camera. Both methods are typically outpatient procedures. 

Miller Orthopedic Specialists offers a *FREE sports injury clinic at both locations. Council Bluffs has a walk-in clinic from 10-11 a.m. every weekday, and the Omaha office has a free sports injury clinic by appointment weekdays. We offer same and next day appointments for sports injuries. Call 402-991-9958 for an appointment. Closed on holidays. The initial consultation is free, but charges may occur for x-rays, supplies or follow-up visits. Come into our Council Bluffs office for the walk-in clinic and ask our front desk about your free T-shirt!

Miller Orthopedic has fellowship-trained, Board Certified, Sports Medicine Specialists, Dr. LaroseDr. Atteberry, and Dr. Huston. They can treat patients of all ages, from children to the weekend warrior. Dr. Huston is certified in pediatric sports medicine as well. Miller Orthopedic is proud to be the team physicians for the Iowa Western Reivers, UNO Mavericks, and College of Saint Mary Flames.

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Miller Orthopedic Specialists

Specializing in a wide range of orthopedic services enables Miller Orthopedic Specialists to provide personalized care plans that get patients back to optimum health.

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