Epicondylitis of the elbow

February 2017


Definition


Epicondyle is a bone projection near a condyle, the rounded portion on an articular surface. The most common is the elbow epicondyle on the side of the humerus. Connected to this are tendons and muscles of the forearm that may become inflamed and cause pain: this is called epicondylitis. This phenomenon is caused by repeated movements and repetitive contractions. Sports that require a particular twisting of the hand, wrist and forearm, such as bowling, golf or skiing, are the main causes of epicondylitis of the elbow. Tennis is also a major cause as the disorder is sometimes referred to as "tennis elbow". Note that there are the same symptoms when the tendon inflammation occurs in the medial condyle of the elbow, which is the case of medial epicondylitis.

Symptoms


Symptoms of epicondylitis of the elbow are:
  • a random pain felt on the outside of the elbow, which spread up the arm;
  • limited ability to move due to the pain;
  • pain upon touching the elbow.

Diagnosis


The diagnosis of epicondylitis of the elbow is made during a physical examination and following a questioning regarding the habits of the patient and the sports that he practices. Radiography is unnecessary because the tendons, even when inflamed, are not visible to X-rays. Ultrasounds or MRIs are rarely used.

Treatment


Epicondylitis of the elbow is treated by resting the forearm so as to avoid further stress on the affected muscles. The use of a cold compress, immobilization, analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to reduce the pain. Injections of corticosteroids may have positive effects, and rehabilitation through physical therapy is possible. If the tendon is seriously damaged, surgery is sometimes considered.

Prevention


To prevent epicondylitis of the elbow, it is necessary to avoid factors that cause inflammation of the tendons, namely the lack of heating or stretching before intense exercise, repetitive movements or trauma.

Related

Original article published by . Translated by Jeff. Latest update on July 23, 2013 at 12:34 PM by Jeff.
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