Tennis elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis is a condition that affects the lateral aspect (or outside) of the elbow, and is caused by degeneration of one of the tendons of the forearm that starts at the elbow, on a bony prominence called the lateral epicondyle, and allows you to extend your wrist. It is thought to result from overuse, when excessive stress is placed on the common extensor tendon of the forearm. As a result, lateral epicondylitis is commonly seen in athletes who participate in racquet sports, such as tennis and racquetball, in addition to people who engage in repetitive activities that involve the wrist and/or elbow. It is commonly seen in occupations that require repetitive motion of the wrist, including painters, plumbers, and carpenters, as well as office workers who do constant keyboarding and mouse work.

Patients with lateral epicondylitis typically complain of pain on the outside of the elbow. The pain may radiate down the back of the forearm towards the wrist. The pain is often worse with hand activities, especially gripping and twisting. Often patients complain that opening a jar, shaking hands, or turning a doorknob is painful. Some patients may notice weakness during gripping activities.
The diagnosis of lateral epicondylitis is typically made by obtaining a thorough history of the patient’s symptoms and by performing a comprehensive physical examination. X-rays are obtained to rule out other causes of pain, but are usually normal in the setting of lateral epicondylitis. Sometimes an MRI is necessary to exclude other pathology in the area.
Tennis elbow is usually treated successfully by non-surgical methods. Initial treatment consists of activity modifications to avoid provocative actions, anti-inflammatory medications, exercises to stretch and strengthen the affected tendon, and frequently a brace, known as a counterforce strap. In addition, a steroid injection can be performed to decrease inflammation in the tendon and speed the recovery process. Recently, several studies have shown that an injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can be helpful in treating lateral epicondylitis.

In the rare event in which the symptoms persist despite adequate conservative treatment, surgery can be performed. During surgery, the degenerative portions of the tendon are excised. Advances in arthroscopic technology have made it possible to perform the surgery in a minimally invasive arthroscopic fashion, minimizing surgical trauma to the normal external tissues and addressing the pathology which is deep and adjacent to the joint. An added benefit to elbow arthroscopy is the ability to perform a diagnostic evaluation of the inside of the joint and address any concomitant internal pathology. Most importantly, the arthroscopic approach to the treatment of tennis elbow allows for a very quick resolution of symptoms and return to normal function.

At Oceana Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center, Dr. Aboka performs minimally invasive, Elbow Arthroscopy for the treatment of Tennis Elbow, facilitating your return to pain-free function. This procedure is outpatient/same-day surgery, and leads to less pain and scarring and quicker recovery and return to normal function.