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Elbow Pain? You May Have Tennis Elbow


Did you know a hand specialist not only treats the hands but also treats all conditions of the wrist and forearm, too? If you’re experiencing pain on the outside of your elbow, an Orthopedic Hand Surgeon will assess you to see if you have a condition commonly known as “tennis elbow” or lateral epicondylitis.  

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is a condition that occurs when there is degeneration on the tendon on the outside of your elbow causing increased stress on the area. The muscle responsible for stabilizing and straightening your wrist, extensor carpi radialis brevis, is affected when you have this condition.  You’ll most likely feel the pain when you lift or grasp something. Although playing tennis is associated with this condition, other sports or repetitive activities can also be the cause.


Patients with tennis elbow commonly experience pain in the outside of the elbow during activities where the tendon is engaged, like gripping. The pain sometimes spreads to the forearm and hand. Your elbow may even become tender to touch.


The condition is commonly referred to as tennis elbow because in the sport of tennis, the motions used are repetitive gripping. Overuse of the elbow and trauma can both cause tennis elbow, although trauma is a less common cause. Some repetitive work that doesn’t seem strenuous, like meat cutting or painting, because of the grasping repetition, can cause tennis elbow.


For many patients, symptoms of tennis elbow will resolve within a year of the pain starting. Others will need to get treatment through their doctor. These can include both surgical and non-surgical options:

  • Limiting Activity – make lifestyle modifications to limit the activities causing the pain. If you play tennis, using a different size racket or modifying your grip may help.
  • Wearing a Brace - a brace worn over the affected muscle or at the wrist can help reduce tension.
  • Medication – anti-inflammatory medications can alleviate pain.
  • Physical Therapy – doing exercises to stretch or strengthen the tendon.
  • Steroid Injections - usually a mixture of cortisone and numbing medicine, these shots can help ease the pain.
  • Surgery – used as a last resort, if the patient hasn’t responded to other treatments and the pain is not allowing them to use their arm.


If you’re experiencing pain in the outside of your elbow, you may have tennis elbow. Since there are multiple treatment options, a specialist can find the one that is right for you.  Visit our hand surgery page to learn more and book an appointment with a hand specialist today!


Mae E. Young, MD, earned her Medical Degree from Washington University in St. Louis, MO and completed her Residency in Orthopedic Surgery at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. She completed Fellowship training in Hand Surgery at University of Alabama in Birmingham, AL and is Board Certified in Orthopedic Surgery. Dr. Young sees patients in Middletown and Monroe.