Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)

What Is Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)?

Lateral epicondylitis is best known as tennis elbow, or even golfer’s elbow. It is a tendonitis, or inflammation, of the tendons that join the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow.  

Despite its name, many cases of tennis elbow are caused by work-related movement. The Yale Hand and Microsurgery Program includes the understanding and treatment of occupation-related disorders. Our multidisciplinary approach offers you a comprehensive treatment plan that includes both surgical and non-surgical care.  


Causes of Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)

Lateral epicondylitis is an overuse injury. As its lay name suggests, tennis elbow can be caused by playing tennis, and other sports including golf, racquetball and other racquet sports. It can also be caused by a number of other repetitive movements and work-related tasks. 

Lateral epicondylitis is linked with many professions that can require repetitive movement of the forearm. These include:

  • Painters
  • Plumbers
  • Carpenters 
  • Auto workers
  • Cooks 

At the Yale Hand and Microsurgery Program, we will help determine the cause of your lateral epicondylitis, so that we can incorporate modifying specific work and daily activities as an important part of your comprehensive treatment plan.

Symptoms of Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)

If you have lateral epicondylitis, you may be experiencing a deep and aching pain on the outside of your elbow, and sharp pain with movement of the elbow joint. Also, you may find that pressure on the side of the elbow reproduces the pain.

In most cases, our doctors can diagnose lateral epicondylitis by examining your elbow during a routine office visit.  

This should be used as a guideline. Not every symptom is included. If you or a loved one has one or more of these symptoms, it does not mean that he or she has lateral epicondylitis. If you are concerned that you or a loved one might have lateral epicondylitis, please make an appointment with your doctor.

Treatments for Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)

Treatment for lateral epicondylitis often includes resting the forearm muscles and activity modification. Most patients who minimize repetitive movement will get better over time. Some milder cases can resolve spontaneously in a few months. At the Yale Hand and Microsurgery Program, an important part in the healing process is first determining what is causing your tendonitis, which, in part, means the understanding and treatment of occupation-related disorders. 

If your tennis elbow is severe and does not respond to conservative treatment, our comprehensive hand and microsurgery team provides effective care and advanced surgical procedures. Often, tennis elbow can be repaired using arthroscopic surgery, which involves tiny instruments and small incisions for less pain and a faster recovery.