Orthopedic Minute — Elbow Pain


Time for another Orthopedic Minute presented by Washington University Physicians.

Hello, I'm Dr. Jay Keener from Washington University Department of Orthopedic Surgery. When I see patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, frequently they complain of elbow pain. The most common cause of elbow pain by far is a condition called tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis.

Tennis elbow is basically a chronic inflammation or tendonitis in a group of muscles that attach to the outer portion of the elbow. Pain is typically experienced in the outer elbow and can sometimes radiate into the forearm. Most patients who develop tennis elbow are actually not tennis players but rather, people who are active or who perform a lot of repetitive gripping activities.

Early symptoms are related to inflammation of the tendon so rest, anti-inflammatories and ice can be very helpful. In some patients, the symptoms last longer leading to scarring of the tendon. For these patients, many times physical therapy or various injection therapies are needed to help with the problem.

It's important to remember that over 90% of patients with tennis elbow can be treated successfully without surgery. It's important to recognize the symptoms early, not to ignore them and to contact your health care provider.

For more information, visit ortho.wustl.edu.

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