Elbow Conditions

Elbow Conditions

  • Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
  • Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)
  • Olecranon Bursitis

Lateral Epicondylitis

Overview

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition in which the outer part of the elbow becomes painful and tender. The pain may also extend into the back of the forearm and grip strength may be weak.

 

Symptoms

Pain on the outer part of the elbow (lateral epicondyle)
Point tenderness over the lateral epicondyle—a prominent part of the bone on the outside of the elbow
Pain from gripping and movements of the wrist, especially wrist extension (e.g. turning a screwdriver) and lifting movements

 

Treatment

Evidence for the treatment of lateral epicondylitis before 2010 was poor. There were clinical trials addressing many proposed treatments, but the trials were of poor quality.

In some cases, severity of tennis elbow symptoms mend without any treatment, within six to 24 months. Tennis elbow left untreated can lead to chronic pain that degrades quality of daily living.

Medial Epicondylitis

Overview

Golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is tendinosis of the medial epicondyle on the inside of the elbow. It is in some ways similar to tennis elbow, which affects the outside at the lateral epicondyle.

 

Symptoms

Typically the golfer’s elbow sufferer will experience pain when performing gripping tasks or resisted wrist/finger flexion. Pain can also be present when the muscles are stretched. There will be tenderness directly over the bony epicondyle, and there may be trigger points in the wrist flexor muscles.

 

Treatment

Non-specific treatments include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin
  • Heat or ice
  • A counter-force brace or “elbow strap” to reduce strain at the elbow epicondyle, to limit pain provocation and to protect against further damage.

Olecranon Bursitis

Overview

Olecranon bursitis is a condition characterized by swelling, redness, and pain at the tip of the elbow. If the underlying cause is due to an infection, fever may be present. The condition is relatively common and is one of the most frequent types of bursitis.

 

Symptoms

Symptoms vary from localized warmth and erythema to joint pain and stiffness, to stinging pain that surrounds the joint around the inflamed bursa. In this condition, the pain usually is worse during and after activity, and then the bursa and the surrounding joint becomes stiff the next morning.

 

Treatment

Bursae that are not infected can be treated symptomatically with rest, ice, elevation, physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medication. Since bursitis is caused by increased friction from the adjacent structures, a compression bandage is not suggested because compression would create more friction around the joint.