Tennis elbow is an injury that affects the tendons attaching to the outside portion of the elbow. One or more tendons suffer a partial or complete tear.
Overuse of the extensor muscles that are attached to the outside of the ulna, like errant backhand swings and top spin motions, can cause tennis elbow. Conversely, golfer’s elbow affects the inside part of the elbow due to a swinging motion that flexes and rotates the wrist as compared to extending the wrist. A direct hard bump is sometimes the culprit. Treatment options are in some ways similar for both.
Weekend warriors who do not have enough endurance or well developed muscles surrounding the wrist and elbow, as well as technique issues, are more susceptible to this type of injury.
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
Pain at the lateral side of the elbow is very common. The pain may extend down the forearm as well, along the path of the defective tendon and respective muscle.
The pain is generally aggravated by use of the hand and wrist, such as lifting and forceful gripping and twisting. Tennis elbow may also cause similar discomfort along the medial (inside) part of the elbow. Tennis elbow is very common and often develops in people in the fourth and fifth decades of life.
Tennis Elbow Options
Conservative treatments such as rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, counterforce bracing, wrist splinting, and cortisone and platelet rich plasma injections may help to heal a tennis elbow injury. Athletes may be instructed to engage in strengthening exercises as well as those to improve endurance, pyrometrics and coordination.
In cases where conservative treatment is ineffective, the patient may benefit from arthroscopic or mini-open surgery.
How Tennis Elbow Surgery is Performed
Tennis elbow surgery can be performed in one of two ways, depending on the extent of damage, patient preference and doctor recommendation .
The more traditional procedure, which may be done arthroscopically or minimally invasively, entails entirely excising the damaged pieces of the lateral extensor tendon.
The newer technique, pioneered by hand surgeon, Dr. Mark Pruzansky – involves the minimally invasive debridement, repair and reattachment of the damaged tendon to the lateral epicondyle prominence of the elbow. This has a higher success rate and leads to greater recovery of forearm strength.
In both instances, surgery is followed by a brief period of immobilization with free use of the hand, followed by physical therapy tailored to the individual.
Call hand surgeon, Dr. Pruzansky, 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment to keep your elbows healthy.