Inflammation of a tendon at its attachment to the bone at the elbow
Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow both occur when the tendon attachment of the muscle to the bone at the elbow becomes damaged. In tennis elbow, the tendon on the outer side of the elbow is injured; in golfer’s elbow, the tendon on the inner side of the elbow is affected.
Both conditions are caused by vigorous and repeated use of the forearm against resistance, which can occur when playing certain sports, such as tennis, or using a screwdriver. The tendon is repeatedly pulled at the point at which it is attached to the bone, which may cause small tears to develop. The resulting damage leads to tenderness and pain in the affected arm.
You should rest the affected painful arm as much as possible. Physiotherapy, ice packs, simple exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles, and ultrasound treatment may help to relieve symptoms. You may also find that a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug helps. If the condition does not improve within 2–6 weeks, your doctor may inject a corticosteroid drug into the affected area (see Locally acting corticosteroids). Once the symptoms have subsided, you should seek advice on ways to change your technique before resuming the sport or activity that gave rise to the condition.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.