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DOC’s Grand Slam Tennis Elbow Treatment

January 4, 2018
Woman playing tennis.

Nearly 18 million people played tennis in the U.S. in 2015. Only 1 in 20 or 5% of all tennis players get tennis elbow. Most people who are diagnosed with tennis elbow have never swung a tennis racquet. Tennis elbow, lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition of the elbow caused by recreational or work activities that require repetitive and vigorous use of the forearm muscle. The elbow joint is made up of three bones: upper arm bone, humerus, and forearm bones, radius and ulna. The bony bump on the outside of the elbow is called the lateral epicondyle. Muscles, ligaments, and tendons hold the elbow joint together. The Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB) tendon in the forearm attaches to the lateral epicondyle. The forearm muscles and tendons can become damaged from overuse, repeating the same motions over and over again. When the ECRB is weakened, tears form in the tendon where it attaches to the lateral epicondyle, leading to inflammation and pain. The symptoms of tennis elbow develop gradually. In most cases, the pain begins as mild and worsens over weeks and months. Common signs and symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Pain or burning on the outer part of the elbow
  • Pain increases with forearm activity
  • Weak grip strength


The DOC orthopedic surgeon will consider many factors in diagnosing tennis elbow, including symptoms, any occupational risk factors, recreational sports participation, and health history. The DOC orthopedist may recommend additional tests to rule out other causes. Most patient guests have success with nonsurgical treatment, resting affected arm, anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce pain and swelling, a forearm brace, and/or cortisone injection. If nonsurgical treatments are unsuccessful, the DOC orthopedic surgeon may recommend a surgical procedure involving the removal of the diseased muscle and reattaching healthy muscle back to the bone. 

For more information on the cost of care, click here.



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