Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow technically are known as lateral epicondylitis and medial epicondylitis, respectively. They are a type of chronic tendinitis. They are also not unique to tennis players and golfers. They’re more common in people who have occupations that involve a lot of repetitive use of their arms and wrists. And more golfers have tennis elbow than they do golfer’s elbow! We offer solutions for treating tennis elbows and golfer's elbow in Glastonbury, CT.
The epicondyle is the bony bump or point on the outside (lateral) and inside (medial) aspect of the elbow. The tendons that bend the wrist backwards (extension) attach to the lateral epicondyle, and the tendons that curl the wrist (flexion) attach to the medial epicondyle.
Causes of Epicondylitis most commonly include any repetitive stress over time. However, an acute injury can also damage the tendon. For example, striking the ground forcefully while trying to hit the ball when swinging a golf club can cause a sudden tear in the tendon on the inside of the elbow.
However, it’s important to note that not all pain along the inner or outer aspect of the elbow is a tendon injury. The ligaments that support the elbow joint can also get injured, particularly the ulnar collateral ligament (on the inner or medial part of the elbow) and the radial collateral ligament (on the outer or lateral part of the elbow).
Symptoms of Epicondylitis typically include pain and tenderness over the point of the elbow, pain or weakness when trying to grasp or pick up objects (such as a carton of milk), or pain when performing certain tasks such as using a screwdriver. Pain over the back or front of the elbow is much less likely to be epicondylitis.
The diagnosis of epicondylitis is based primarily on the history, physical exam and ultrasound evaluation. X-rays cannot diagnose epicondylitis, but they can be helpful to identify other problems such as fractures. MRI is rarely needed but can be helpful when treatment isn’t helping, and we need to find out if something more serious or unusual is going on. Most insurance companies won’t approve an MRI until you’ve had an x-ray and tried and failed conservative treatment.
Treatment for epicondylitis begins with conservative care, including physical therapy and activity modification. Many practices routinely give cortisone injections. However, many studies show that these do not provide any better long-term benefits than physical therapy, and cortisone can be harmful to tendons. A tennis elbow brace can help relieve some of the tension on the tendon, enabling you to do activities with less pain. But it does not promote actual healing of the damage. Another treatment option is the TenJet procedure. The TenJet is a non-surgical procedure that uses very fine high-pressure jets of sterile water to break up and remove damaged and diseased tissue while preserving healthy tendon. Removing the damaged tissue allows the remaining healthy tissue to heal. It's done right in the office and takes about 15 mins.