MedClinic > Blog > Algology > Lateral epicondylitis


Lateral epicondylitis is an inflammation of a joint with the development of degenerative pathological processes of the tendons and muscles attached to it. The main cause of this disease is an excessive load on the forearm. Inflammation affects the tendon, bone tissue and periosteum. Lateral epicondylitis, the treatment of which must be timely, leads to such a complication as styloiditis and provokes the onset of pain in the muscle tendons responsible for the movement of the thumb.

Reasons for development

Factors provoking the disease are associated, for the most part, with professional activities and the characteristics of physical activity, which a person exposes his body to. Provocateurs of epicondylitis of the elbow joint are:

  • features of the profession that are associated with frequent loads on the forearm or elbow;
  • frequent hand injuries;
  • constant physical overload (found in athletes involved in power sports);
  • disturbance of blood circulation in the joint.

Clinical picture

Epicondylitis is a disease that does not have specific symptoms, and therefore this makes it somewhat difficult to diagnose. The main signs of a degenerative inflammatory process on the elbow joint are:

  • pains that occur suddenly can have strong intensity;
  • burning sensation in the elbow;
  • decreased hand endurance.

Pain symptom is aggravated by flexion and extension of the elbow joint. With the development of this disease, if timely treatment has not been carried out, epicondylitis leads to the fact that a person cannot perform simple movements – raise a cup, use cutlery. Over time, pain affects the entire arm.

Lateral epicondylitis of the elbow joint can lead to disruption of the function of flexion in fingers and hand, pain with this type of disease is acute and sharp. Lateral epicondylitis affects the entire limb over time. If treatment was not carried out on time, the disease goes into a chronic stage with alternating relapses and remissions.

How to diagnose this disease?

Symptoms of lateral epicondylitis of the joint and forearm are nonspecific, and therefore, a single examination of the patient is not enough to establish a diagnosis. Diagnostic methods for lateral epicondylitis are:

  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • CT


The treatment technique is selected by the doctor for each clinical case individually. The initial stages of the disease are effectively treated with drug therapy and physiotherapy. For the relief of pain, painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed. If they do not give positive results, a blockade is carried out. The method of blockade is also used in cases where a surgical operation cannot be performed due to contraindications.

In the treatment of ulnar and brachial epicondylitis, various physiotherapy procedures are used, the main task of which is to remove the inflammatory process, restore mobility and prevent atrophy of the forearm muscles – magnet therapy, laser irradiation, wave therapy, exposure to high-frequency currents, paraffin baths.

Physiotherapy and drug treatment successfully fight with ulnar epicondylitis in the early stages of its development and in the presence of a mild symptomatic picture. In case when pain is very severe, and a person is not able to move his hand, the doctor will appoint a Johann’s surgery. After the operation, the patient needs to undergo a rehabilitation course, which involves performing special physiotherapeutic exercises to develop motor functions of the arm.