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What is Epicondylitis?

Epicondylitis is a condition of the elbow that occurs because of repetitive stress to the medial or lateral elbow. Lateral epicondylitis is the most common form and is generally referred to as tennis elbow and happens five time more often. Medial epicondylitis happens less often and is referred to as golfers elbow. Most people who experience epicondylitis don’t actually play tennis. Epicondylitis can happen to anyone who repeatedly uses their elbow, wrist, and hand for sport, job, or hobby.


Lateral epicondylitis is caused by overuse of the muscles that extend the wrist. The site of injury is where the tendons attach to the bone on the lateral (outside) of the elbow. Contractile overloads that chronically stress the tendon with repetitive activities like computer use, heavy lifting, repetitive vibration, or forceful rotation of the forearm. The muscles you use to grip, twist, and carry objects all attach to the lateral side of the elbow. Epicondylitis is most commonly seen in adults between the ages of 30 to 50 years old.


Typically symptoms develop gradually over a period of time. There is inflammation of the tendon and microscopic tearing of the tendon in an area that is not as well vascularized, and therefore has more difficulty healing because it is without a robust blood supply.


Physical therapy can help the acute pain with manual therapy, massage, dry needling, education, and ice. As the pain decreases progressive strengthening exercises will help increase strength and endurance of the elbow/wrist muscles so that patient can return to normal activity, job, or hobby.

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