Tennis Elbow or lateral epicondylitis is a painful condition involving the tendons that attach to the bone on the outside (lateral) part of the elbow. Tendons anchor the muscle to bone. The muscle involved in this condition helps to extend and stabilize the wrist. With lateral epicondylitis, there is degeneration of the tendon’s attachment, weakening the anchor site and placing greater stress on the area. This can then lead to pain associated with activities in which this muscle is active, such as lifting, gripping, and/or grasping. Sports such as tennis are commonly associated with this, but the problem can occur with many different types of activities, athletic and otherwise.
The most common age group that this condition affects is between 30 to 50 years old, but it may occur in younger and older age groups, and in both men and women.
Signs and symptoms of tennis elbow/lateral epicondylitis: Pain is the primary reason for patients to seek medical evaluation. The pain is located over the outside aspect of the elbow, over the bone region known as the lateral epicondyle. This area becomes tender to touch. Pain is also produced by any activity which places stress on the tendon, such as gripping or lifting. With activity, the pain usually starts at the elbow and may travel down the forearm to the hand. Occasionally, any motion of the elbow can be painful.
Golfer’s Elbow or medial epicondylitis, is similar to tennis elbow and is considered a cumulative trauma injury. It is thought that over time repeated use of the muscles of the arm and forearm may lead to small tears in the tendons which results in elbow pain and weakness. The muscles that are used to pull the hand down (wrist flexors) are located on the palm side of the forearm. These muscles attach to the common flexor tendon, which attaches to the medial epicondyle (on the inside of the elbow). When the wrist flexors are overused, the common flexor tendon becomes inflammation and painful. Such inflammation in a tendon is termed “tendinitis”.
Tendinitis (also called tendonitis) is an inflammation or irritation of a tendon, a thick cord that attaches bone to muscle. Tendinitis is most often caused by repetitive, minor impact on the affected area, or from a sudden more serious injury.
There are many activities that can cause tendinitis, including: gardening, raking, carpentry, painting, and shoveling, scrubbing, tennis, golf, skiing, throwing and pitching.
Incorrect posture at work or home or poor stretching or conditioning before exercise or playing sports also increases a person’s risk. Other risk factors for tendinitis, include: an abnormal or poorly placed bone or joint (such as length differences in your legs or arthritis in a joint) that stresses soft-tissue structures; stresses from other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, thyroid disorders, or unusual medication reactions; overuse or doing too much too soon when the tendons are not used to a movement or to the task taken on. Tendinitis is common in “weekend warriors,” people that play and exercise hard only on weekends; occasionally an infection can cause tendinitis, especially infection from a cat or dog bite to the hand or a finger.
Anyone can get tendinitis, but it is more common in adults, especially those over 40 years of age. As tendons age they tolerate less stress, are less elastic, and are easier to tear. Tendinitis can occur in almost any area of the body where a tendon connects a bone to a muscle. The most common places are: base of the thumb; elbow; shoulder; hip; knee; Achilles tendon.
The symptoms of tendinitis include: pain at the site of the tendon and surrounding area [pain may gradually build up or be sudden and severe, especially if calcium deposits are present]; loss of motion of the area involved.