Tennis elbow is a common repetitive strain injury, but you don't need to be a tennis player to develop the condition. If you have symptoms of tennis elbow, Wisconsin River Orthopaedics can help: Our board-certified orthopaedic surgeons and therapists use a range of techniques, including surgery where necessary, to restore elbow function and ease pain. For prompt, effective treatment of tennis elbow, call (715) 424-1881.

What is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, arises when tendinitis develops in the joint. The tendons become inflamed, causing elbow pain and loss of strength in your arm.

The inflammation that causes tennis elbow results from repeated contractions of your forearm muscles – the ones you use when straightening your arm and lifting your hand and wrist. Over time, these repetitive movements create tiny tears in the tendons that trigger an inflammatory response.

You don't have to play racquet sports to get tennis elbow. Anyone who makes repetitive movements with their arms over prolonged periods, from plumbers to painters, could develop this condition.

What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow pain originates at the bony lump on your outer elbow, where the tendons attach your forearm muscles to the bone. The pain may spread along your forearm and into your wrist.

The pain and weakness tennis elbow causes can make it hard to perform everyday tasks that involve gripping such as shaking hands, opening doors, and holding objects.

How is tennis elbow treated?

If you rest your arm and stop making the movements that caused the condition, your tennis elbow may get better on its own. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can also help.

The sports medicine experts at Wisconsin River Orthopaedics offer effective treatments for tennis elbow if self-care measures aren't working. Our providers might suggest you undergo an evaluation of how you're using your arm because poor technique is often an underlying issue.

Our team's therapists can help by stretching and strengthening your muscles. They may also fit you with a forearm strap or brace to relieve stress on the inflamed tissue.

Would I need surgery for tennis elbow?

For most patients, the Wisconsin River Orthopaedics team finds that non-invasive treatments are all that's required. In some cases, they might propose you undergo a procedure like ultrasonic tenotomy (TENEX) if your tennis elbow pain isn't improving.

TENEX involves your provider using ultrasound guidance to insert a special needle into the damaged tendon. We then deliver ultrasonic energy that makes the needle vibrate so fast that it liquifies the damaged tissue, which your provider then extracts using suction.

If your tennis elbow symptoms still don’t improve after 6-12 months of non-surgical treatment, your provider can operate to remove the damaged tendon. Following the procedure, you need to undergo a physical therapy program to help the tendon heal properly and restore function to your arm.