Tennis Elbow or lateral epicondylitis is the most commonly diagnosed condition affecting the elbow. Tennis Elbow affects about 3% of the population in the US. It commonly affects adults between the ages of 35 and 50, especially those involved in activities that involve repetitive use, or strong gripping at the wrist. While the specific cause is inflammation, it always involves a lesion at the common origin of the wrist and finger extensors on the lateral epicondyle, or the lateral bony ridge at the elbow.
In the tennis player it occurs mainly as a result of poor technique or improper equipment. Factors such as grip size and racquet tension are as important as sound technique.
Treatment options always start with a period of rest. Non-steroid anti-inflammatory medication, bracing, physical therapy and judicious use of steroid injections are part of the treatment. Once the pain is under control a strengthening program for the forearm extensor muscles is key to prevent this condition from reoccurrence.
When symptoms persist for more than 6 months, more aggressive treatment such as surgery is an option. An option that is currently under study is injecting platelet rich plasma directly into the involved tissue.