Despite its name, tennis elbow can affect anyone, not just tennis players. The condition is caused by overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle, which is the bony bump on the outer part of the elbow.
Repetitive motions, such as gripping, lifting, or twisting, can lead to tiny tears in the tendons, resulting in inflammation and pain. Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, particularly when gripping or twisting objects. The pain may also radiate down the forearm and may worsen with activity or after prolonged use of the affected arm. In severe cases, the pain may even make it difficult to perform simple tasks, such as opening a door or shaking hands. Tennis elbow typically develops gradually over time and may be associated with a specific activity or occupation that involves repetitive motions.
Treatment for tennis elbow typically involves rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medications to reduce inflammation and pain. Physical therapy may also be recommended to stretch and strengthen the affected muscles and tendons. In some cases, a brace or splint may be used to immobilize the affected arm and reduce stress on the tendons. Surgery is usually only considered as a last resort when conservative treatments have been unsuccessful. With proper treatment and self-care, most people with tennis elbow are able to recover within a few months.