Elbow tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendons around the elbow joint.  Tendonitis results from overuse of the muscles and tendons, seen as microtears in the tendons that lead to pain and stiffness.  The epicondyle is the attachment site for tendons and ligaments on the long bones (specifically, the humerus) that make up the joint.  When the inflammation of the tendons involves the epicondyle region, it is referred to as epicondylitis.  There two epicondyles on the humerus, lateral and medial, are most commonly involved with epicondylitis or tendonitis in the elbow.

Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)

Lateral epicondylitis, commonly referred to as tennis elbow, most often results from inflammation of the extensor carpi radialis brevis (extensor tendon of the forearm) on the outside of the elbow.  This tendon and other extensor tendons connect the extensor muscles of the forearm to the lateral epicondyle of the humerus (upper arm bone).  Lateral epicondylitis is caused by overuse of the elbow in sports like tennis with repetitive wrist extension (often with the backhand stroke).  This leads to pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow and causes a decrease in grip strength.  Treatment typically involves rest, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), activity modification, physical therapy, and corticosteroid or PRP injections on the outside of the elbow joint.  If these non-surgical means fail to alleviate symptoms, surgery is recommended to restore strength and reduce pain.

Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)

Medial epicondylitis, commonly referred to as golfer’s elbow, results from inflammation of the flexor carpi radialis and pronator teres (flexor tendons of the forearm).  These tendons connect the flexor muscles of the forearm to the medial epicondyle of the humerus (upper arm bone).  Medial epicondylitis is caused by repetitive wrist flexion and forearm pronation during sports like golf, bowling, weightlifting and pitching in baseball.  This leads to pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow.  Treatment typically involves rest, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), activity modification, physical therapy, and corticosteroid or PRP injections on the inside of the elbow joint.  If these non-surgical means fail to alleviate symptoms, surgery is recommended to restore strength and reduce pain.