Tennis Elbow

(Lateral Epicondylitis)

Tennis elbow is a painful condition located around the bony prominence on the outer side of the elbow. It results from overuse of the forearm muscles, and is a form of tendinitis. Despite its common name, it is usually a result of occupational activities rather than tennis.

The muscles that attach to the outer side of the elbow pass along the back of the forearm and wrist, and act to extend the wrist. With repetitive or strenuous activity, or sometimes as a result of a direct blow to the side of the elbow, the point where these muscles attach to bone becomes damaged and inflamed.

Classic symptoms of tennis elbow:

Pain on the outer side of the elbow and down the forearm, especially with use of the hand
     • Tenderness (and sometimes swelling) over the bone on the outer side of the elbow
     • Pain is especially noticed when lifting with palm facing the floor, or with the grip of handshaking


Conservative treatment is usually successful, and consists of rest, use of a tennis elbow band, oral anti-inflammatory medicine, and sometimes a wrist splint. Injection of cortisone at the area of inflammation often is useful.

If symptoms persist despite conservative measures, a surgical procedure may be needed to repair the damaged tendon tissue. This is usually done with a regional anesthetic (only the arm is numbed), as an outpatient. A splint is worn about 9 days following surgery, and strenuous activity is limited for several weeks.
Tennis Elbow