Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is the most frequent reason behind pain in the outside of the elbow. But there are various other causes for the occurrence of lateral elbow pain.
These causes should be considered along with acute elbow injuries such as fractures and sprains. Possible reasons for outside elbow pain may include radial tunnel syndrome, bursitis, referred pain, synovitis, and osteochondritis dissecans.
Thomas & Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute, led by reliable board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler, provides orthopedic treatments to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding locations in The Sagebrush State.
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis or extensor tendinopathy, is a common term to describe pain in the outer elbow. It usually occurs due to tendon swelling or degeneration where the wrist extensor muscles insert into the elbow. Sports such as tennis as well as other activities that strain the elbow muscles can cause this condition.
Radial Tunnel Syndrome
Radial tunnel syndrome (radial nerve entrapment) occurs when the radial nerve gets restricted or compressed in the tunnel that it goes through. This injury usually happens due to rotation of the lower arm/wrist rather than repetitive use as in the case of tennis elbow. However, symptoms of both types of injuries may be similar.
Osteochondritis Dissecans refers to a piece of cartilage and, at times, the underlying bone within a joint. This condition occurs commonly in teens as the ends of the bones are not yet completely hardened. Throwing sports cause and aggravate this injury. Therefore, discontinuing this activity for a period can help address the pain.
Elbow synovitis is the swelling of the synovial membrane which surrounds the elbow joint. The symptoms are a pain in the elbow joint and redness over the site. But usually, another condition causes synovitis such as joint injury or cancer. Due to this reason, synovitis can signal a grave problem and it is vital to receive medical advice for this condition.
Symptoms of radiohumeral bursitis can be similar to those of tennis elbow. Radiohumeral Bursitis refers to the swelling of the bursa (tiny sack of fluid located between the tendon and bone to help lubricate the area).
This injury can occur due to a direct blow to the arm or joint. The common symptoms associated with this injury are inflammation, elbow pain, and limited movement.
When should you consult a Doctor?
Most elbow and injuries can be treated at home, especially if they are minor. But in case the patient experiences the following symptoms, they should consult a doctor:
- Severe upper arm, forearm, or elbow pain, especially after a fall.
- Severe edema (swelling) around the injury.
- A discernible “crack” sound from the forearm or upper arm after a fall.
- A sensation when the bone at the elbow moves out of its joint (dislocates). This injury commonly occurs in young kids (see above).
- Changes in hand or arm sensations, such as experiencing paresthesia (“pins and needles”) or anesthesia (“loss of feeling”) in the hand.
- Inability to undertake or manage routine tasks after the first 72 hours.
Successful board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Thomas and Dr. Bigler receive patients from Las Vegas, Nevada, and nearby areas across the landscape.
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