Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylosis)
- Pain or burning on outer part of elbow
- Weak grip strength
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylosis, is injury of your tendons where the forearm muscles join the outer part of your elbow. Long-term injury to your tendons, or chronic tendinopathy, is a condition of a tendon injury at a cellular level that does not heal and remains painful despite rest. Tennis elbow is one of the most common chronic tendinopathies. This condition typically occurs in people that use their forearm muscles in the same repetitive motions again and again. Although this condition is named tennis elbow, many non-racquet sports related actions could cause pain on the outer elbow. Professionals such as painters, autoworkers, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and butchers often suffer from this condition.
About 90% of patients with tennis elbow improve with conservative treatment such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, rest, elbow straps, physical therapy, and steroid injections. While steroid injections frequently help alleviate acute pain associated with tennis elbow, newer literature suggests that it may actually be harmful to the tendon itself. Patients who do not respond to conservative treatment may be candidates for the new minimally invasive procedure.
New Minimally Invasive Technique
Recently a new minimally invasive technique has been developed which is based on the principles of phacoemulsification (a modern cataract surgery). This technique, which has successfully been applied to extract cataracts, is now being used to remove diseased tissue associated with chronic tendinopathies. The surgeon uses a specialized probe to break-up and remove abnormal tissue thereby allowing new healthy tissue to form. A recent study of this procedure showed a 95% success rate at 1-year. The postoperative recovery is reported to be much faster compared to standard open procedures. Patients are allowed to resume non-repetitive use in 2 days. After 5 days, patients are allowed to progress as tolerated. Some restriction of heavy use is expected for approximately 6 weeks.
Open Surgical Treatment
The open surgical technique requires a much larger incision than the minimally invasive technique. During the open surgical procedure, the surgeon removes the diseased muscle and reattaches the healthy muscle back to the bone.