> Tennis Elbow
What is a Lateral Epicondyle?
The two bony bumps where the bottom of your upper-arm
bone (humerus) meets the elbow joint are called epicondyles.
The muscles that bend your wrist backward, called extensors,
run along the outside of your forearm and attach to
the elbow’s outer bony bump (lateral epicondyle).
Tennis elbow is a common form of tendinitis around the
bony bump on the outside of the elbow. It strikes the
extensor tendon that connects the wrist extensor muscles
in the forearm to the lateral epicondyle. Overuse of
the wrist extensor muscles pulls on the extensor tendon,
and gradually tears the connection between the elbow
and forearm muscles.
There are usually three parts to
an orthopedic evaluation: medical history, a physical
examination, and tests that your doctor may order.
Your physician likely will ask about your activities,
which may be causing the pain in your elbow. He or she
will probably ask when the soreness and/or pain began.
If you have had any prior elbow injuries, your physician
will ask about the treatments you have tried in the
Your physician will feel around the bony bump
on the outside of your elbow to see if you have tenderness
there. Physicians may use a series of physical tests
to determine the extent of your tennis elbow pain:
Coffee cup test you lift a coffee cup or a textbook
gripped as you would a coffee cup.
test while standing with the elbow straight, you
are asked to lift a chair off the ground.
finger extension with your arm extended in front
of you, your elbow straight and your palm down, your
physician asks you to push up with your middle finger
as it is held steady.
wrist extension with an extended arm and palm
down, your physician asks you to bend your wrist backwards
as resistance is applied to the back of your hand.
Your doctor also may test the flexibility of the tendon
that connects the forearm muscles to the outside of
your elbow by lifting your arm and bending your elbow.
TESTS X-rays of the elbow usually are not necessary
to diagnose tennis elbow. But they may be ordered if
your physician suspects that joint disease or a tumor
could be causing the pain.
If left untreated, tennis elbow can
lead to increased stiffness and weakness of the forearm
muscles. The tendon that attaches the forearm muscles
to the elbow may become more brittle. This can be caused
by deposits of calcium salts that harden tissue in the
elbow, or possibly arthritis and joint degeneration.
Non-surgical treatment with rest, medication, ice, and
physical therapy usually is effective for healing tennis
elbow. In rare cases, surgery to repair and stimulate
blood flow through the tendon may be prescribed.