Tennis elbow is a painful condition caused by overuse of the elbow joint. It is common in athletes who play tennis or other racquet sports as well as other careers or activities that require repetitive use of the elbow. The condition is caused by inflammation of the tendons that join the muscles of the forearm to the outside of the elbow. The condition is painful and limits a patient’s ability to use or bend his or her arm, often reducing grip strength. It most often affects a person’s dominant arm and develops gradually. There isn’t usually a specific injury that marks the beginning of the condition.
Dr. Zhao performs through examinations to diagnose injuries and medical conditions. He will talk to you about your activities to see how or if your lifestyle is contributing to the condition. He will use a variety of tests to check your range of motion and the strength in your arm and hand. He may also order diagnosing imaging tests such as x-rays, MRIs, and electromyography (EMG) to see if any damage or inflammation that is not apparent externally.
In most cases, Dr. Zhao will begin treatment with conservative options such as rest, NSAIDs, or a brace. He may also suggest physical therapy or steroid injections. Steroid injections are very effective anti-inflammatory medications which reduce pain significantly when injected into the injured elbow. A brace will provide additional support to the elbow, reducing strain and stress on the joint. If these conservative treatments are not effective surgery may be necessary. Most surgical procedures for tennis elbow involve removing the damaged tissue and reattaching the muscle to the bone. Whenever possible, Dr. Zhao will use minimally invasive arthroscopic surgical techniques although in some cases a traditional open surgery may be necessary to fully repair the joint.
To learn more about elbow conditions and procedures, please take a look at these educational videos.