This condition occurs as a result of “wear and tear” in the tendons on the outside of the elbow. As a result of this wear, patients experience chronic pain on the outside of the elbow. The pain is usually aggravated by wrist extension and/or forearm rotation, particularly with repetitive activities that involve these motions. Other symptoms include sensitivity to touch and pain worsened by finder extension and forearm rotation.
In most cases, our specialists can help sufferers recover from tennis elbow successfully with rest, use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medication, physical or occupational therapy, elbow or wrist splinting for symptom relief, and, if required, cortisone injections. Physical therapists can help patients strengthen the painful muscles and tendons to control pain and prevent further injury. Splinting relieves stress from the irritated tendons, holding them in a resting position, during activities that may otherwise irritate the tendons. Cortisone injections are used for severe symptoms.
An orthopaedic surgeon may recommend surgery when these non-invasive treatment options fail. However, minimally-invasive arthroscopic techniques allow surgeons to perform the surgery on an outpatient basis with minimal damage to the surrounding muscles. Most patients are back to their normal activities within four to six weeks following the procedure.
“Golfer’s elbow,” or medial epicondylitis, is similar to tennis elbow but the injury occurs on the inside of the elbow (as opposed to the outside). As with tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow arises from “wear and tear” in the tendons. Symptoms include chronic pain inside the elbow, painful sensation around the elbow, and worsened pain as a result of movement. Treating golfer’s elbow is very similar to treating tennis elbow, with most patients successfully treated with activity modification, therapy, splinting, and injections. Surgical treatment, if needed, can be arthroscopic with a relatively quick recovery time.
Dr. Ernesto Luciano-Perez is a Hampton Roads physician who specializes in sports medicine, arthroscopic surgery and general orthopaedics. He sees patients at VOSS’s Harbour View, Suffolk; Meade Parkway, Suffolk; and High Street, Portsmouth locations.