If you’ve pain in the elbow or forearm, this is likely because you may have damaged your arm muscles, elbow ligaments, tendons, bursae, or bones.
There could be many explanations of what is causing your elbow pain, including one-time injury to the elbow like when you fall or get hit hard while playing sports; wear and tear injuries like bursitis, tennis elbow, trapped nerves, etc.; and diseases like arthritis, gout, lupus, etc.
Tennis elbow is one of the most common causes of pain in the elbow. Let’s talk about how your sports medicine doctor will determine if your tennis elbow is the cause of your elbow pain or if there is something else behind your pain and where you can go in Farmington Hills, MI, for high-quality orthopedic care.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition affecting the tendon (a tough cord of the tissues that connect muscles with bones) of the elbow. In tennis elbow, the tendon called extensor carpi radialis brevis that bends your wrist backward from your palm becomes inflamed.
Most commonly, it is caused by the force of the tennis racket hitting the tennis balls in the backhand position. The risks of developing tennis elbow increase if you have weak wrist and shoulder muscles or use a tightly strung or too short tennis racket.
In addition to athletes, tennis elbow can also affect cooks, plumbers, carpenters, painters, and auto workers.
How is Tennis Elbow Diagnosed?
Usually, tennis elbow can be diagnosed by a physical exam performed by an orthopedic doctor specializing in sports medicine.
During the physical exam, your doctor may ask you to straighten your fingers and wrist against the resistance with your arm fully straight. If this hand movement causes you pain, it means that your muscles aren’t healthy. Moreover, your doctor may also apply gentle pressure to your lateral epicondyle to check for pain and tenderness.
In addition, your sports medicine doctor may also order diagnostic imaging tests, such as:
- X-rays – An X-ray exam provides a clear picture of the bones of your elbow and rules out the chances of arthritis.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging – The MRI can create a clear picture of the elbow and determine how severely the elbow is damaged.
MRI also rules out if the disk or neck problem is the cause of your elbow pain.
- Electromyography–This diagnostic test may help determine if you have a nerve problem that is causing pain in your elbow.
Other Causes of Elbow Pain
If your doctor finds out that tennis elbow is not the cause of your elbow pain, they may do above mentioned tests and some additional diagnostics tests based on your other symptoms to find out the real culprit of your elbow pain. In addition to tennis elbow, other causes of your elbow pain may include:
- Golfer’s elbow
- Broken arm
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Trapped nerve
- Throwing injury
Sports Medicine in Farmington Hills, MI
If you’re experiencing elbow pain and want a thorough evaluation, visit our board-certified sports medicine doctors at Tri-County Orthopedics. Our highly trained doctors will assess your symptoms, evaluate your medical history, perform a physical exam, and order diagnostic tests to pinpoint the cause of your elbow pain. Then, they will develop a comprehensive treatment plan to treat your problem.