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Tennis Elbow

Orthopedic Institute of Santa Barbara -  - Orthopedic Surgeon

Orthopedic Institute of Santa Barbara

Orthopedic Surgeons & Sports Medicine located in Santa Barbara, CA & Solvang, CA

Tennis elbow is a common condition that affects the tendons in your elbow and forearm. The pain from tennis elbow makes it difficult to complete simple tasks like opening doors and gripping objects. If you’re experiencing symptoms of tennis elbow, William R. Gallivan, MD, and his team at the Orthopedic Institute of Santa Barbara provide patients with reliable and effective pain relief. To speak with Dr. Gallivan about your condition, book an appointment at the office in Santa Barbara, California, by phone or online today.

Tennis Elbow

What causes tennis elbow?

Despite the name, tennis elbow isn’t restricted to athletes. Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis occurs when repetitive stress is put on the tendons in the elbow. Overuse of the forearm muscles causes tiny tears in the tendons that connect the forearm to the elbow, resulting in pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. 

The movements associated with playing tennis (straightening and raising the arm with force) are often the cause of tennis elbow, giving the condition its name. 

How is tennis elbow diagnosed?

Tennis elbow is primarily diagnosed through a physical exam. Your doctor examines the area for pain, tenderness, and strength. You may be asked to perform simple tasks like straightening your arm and moving your wrists and fingers. 

You and your doctor discuss your medical history to determine if there may be other underlying causes for your pain. In addition to a physical exam, your doctor may also perform an X-Ray, MRI, or Electromyography (EMG) to rule out conditions like arthritis and fractures. 

How is tennis elbow treated?

In many cases, mild tennis elbow can be treated with rest and icing the affected area. If your condition is severe or persistent, other measures can be taken to relieve your pain. Treatments for tennis elbow include:

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is an effective nonsurgical solution to tennis elbow. Physical therapy can help you stretch and strengthen the muscles in your forearm. You may also be asked to wear a brace to reduce stress to the injured elbow. 

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections

PRP injections are used to promote healing of the damaged tendons. The treatment is performed by separating platelet-rich plasma from a small sample of your blood. Platelet-rich plasma helps accelerate relief and ensures you recover normal function in your elbow. 

Minimally invasive surgery

If your condition doesn’t respond to noninvasive methods, the Orthopedic Institute of Santa Barbara also offers minimally invasive surgery. Your doctor uses several small incisions to remove and replace damaged tissue in your elbow and forearm. 

Your treatment depends on the severity of your condition. The orthopedic specialists at the Orthopedic Institute of Santa Barbara develop individualized treatment plans designed to optimize your recovery and get you back to your normal routine. 

To find out which treatment is best for you, call the office, or book an appointment online today.