Lateral Epicondylitis

By Olivia Nguyen, PA-C

You’re about to hit the winning backhand across the tennis court, when a sharp pain stops your shot. The point is lost and you’re left with a throbbing ache in your elbow. Lateral epicondylitis, commonly referred to as tennis elbow, is a common tendon injury that can cause pain in the outside of the elbow that may radiate to the arm, wrist, or hand. This is an overuse injury of the extensior muscles, which all attach on the outside of the elbow. Over time, micro-tears in the tendon can accumulate, causing inflammation and pain. People who perform repetitive wrist extension against resistance, such as the backhand stroke in tennis, are at the greatest risk. Tennis elbow can be treated by conservative measures which include the following: ice, wrist or elbow braces, ibuprofen or Tylenol, and strengthening exercises. For the tennis enthusiast, adjustments can be made including using a lighter racket, smaller over-grip, and correcting the backhand technique to limit elbow bending and utilizing more of the shoulders instead. If these methods fail to correct the pain, a steroid injection can provide relief. Those who fail these treatments and suffer from persistent pain may turn to surgery.

Alternative to the surgical route, some patients may benefit from regenerative treatment, an umbrella term that includes options such as Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP), Stem Cells, Amnion-Derived Fluid, and Alpha-2-Macroglobulin (A2M), etc. in order to boost the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Injections utilizing regenerative treatment have garnered much attention in the field of tendon injury and repair through its potential to reverse the degenerative process and encourage regeneration of healthy tendon. Patients are advised to speak to their doctors regarding regenerative treatment options to determine what personalized care works best for them. Keeping patients away from the sidelines and back to their physical activities is possible through a variety of treatment options.

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