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Lateral Epicondylitis

Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) Causes & Treatment

Lateral epicondylitis, commonly called tennis elbow, is a repetitive stress injury that affects many people. The name tennis elbow is perhaps an incomplete title however, as lateral epicondylitis can affect anyone who engages in a regular, repetitive movement over time. This injury can occur in mechanics, artists, golfers, assembly workers, auto-detailing workers, and many more. Anyone who performs a repetitive movement regularly, over a long period of time could be at risk for developing lateral epicondylitis.

How it Happens

To be specific, it is the muscles that are attached to the elbow in the outer area, the lateral epicondyle, that can be strained from overuse. This can lead to inflammation that initiates swelling, pain, and tenderness. This inflammation can be due to an actual injury or simply due to the repetition of movement over time.

Testing & Diagnosis

If you feel pain or tenderness, or have swelling in your elbow area, schedule an appointment to see your primary care doctor. She or he will assess your injury and may offer treatment or refer you to a specialist such as a physiotherapist. Simple movement tests may be performed to gauge the range of movement and sensitivity etc. In some cases your doctor or physiotherapist may order X-rays, ultrasonography, or an MRI to evaluate the damage, assess fluid buildup, and observe swelling.

Symptoms You May Experience

Lateral epicondylitis can cause multiple symptoms that range in severity. Some of the more common possible symptoms are listed below.

Pain (possibly intense)
Decreased Range of Comfortable Movement
Difficulty Lifting Objects (when hand is on top)


The best treatment for any repetitive movement injury is rest. The movement is what created the problem so decreasing overuse of the elbow will allow healing to begin. Other treatment options—your doctor or physiotherapist may suggest any of the following for treatment:

  • Extensive Rest
  • Ice Packs
  • Ultrasound Therapy
  • Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
  • Analgesics
  • Steroid Injections
  • Elbow Brace

Commonly Used Drugs for Treatment

There are many drugs/medications used for the treatment of lateral epicondylitis. Talk to your doctor about your condition. Your doctor will decide which, if any, medication is right for you, and in what form you should receive it. For your convenience, a few of the commonly used drugs/medications are listed below.

  • Dexamethasone
  • Cortisone
  • Prednisone
  • Zema Pak
  • Cortone Acetate
  • Dexpak Taperpak
  • Solurex
  • Dexasone
  • Solurex LA
  • De-Sone LA
  • Dexacen-4
  • Dexasone LA
  • "It is rare to find health professionals who are so willing to educate the patient on what they need to know."

    Clair C. | West Hollywood, CA