Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) is the most common painful condition of the elbow. Inflammation and pain occur on the outer side of the elbow where muscles and tendons attach to the bone. The structures involved are the muscles or tendons of the forearm that bring your wrist back (extend the wrist). This occurs not only in tennis players but also in anyone who performs repeated resisted motions of the wrist. Without proper intervention, this may develop into a chronic, recurrent problem.
Initial treatment consists of ice to relieve pain, stretching and strengthening exercises, and modification of the activity that initially caused the problem. These can all be carried out at home for acute cases. Chronic cases often require referral to a physical therapist or athletic trainer for further evaluation and treatment. A counterforce (tennis elbow) brace may be recommended to reduce the forces to the damaged tendon. A splint to immobilize the wrist may be useful early. If symptoms persist, an injection of cortisone and anesthetics or surgical intervention may be required.
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