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What is lateral epicondylitis?

There are many workplace injuries that can result from repetitive use of the upper extremities, which include the hands, arms and shoulders. One such injury is lateral epicondylitis. You may not recognize it by its scientific name, but you may be more familiar with its common appellation: tennis elbow. While playing tennis is one possible cause of lateral epicondylitis, it can result from occupational activities as well as recreational ones.

According to the Mayo Clinic, lateral epicondylitis results in pain around the bony prominence on the outside of your elbow. There is a tendon that attaches at this spot and connects the muscles of your forearm to your upper arm. When you use these muscles repeatedly to lift your hand or straighten your wrist, it can put stress on the tendon, which can result in a series of tiny tears. The damage to the tendon is what causes the pain of lateral epicondylitis, which can also radiate down to the wrist and hand.

Lateral epicondylitis is very common among people who work on computers. In particular, the repetitive use of a computer mouse is a risk factor. The following professionals may also be at risk for developing the condition: 

  • Butchers
  • Plumbers
  • Carpenters
  • Painters

If possible, making ergonomic modifications to your workstation may help to prevent or relieve lateral epicondylitis. Many people successfully manage the pain with over-the-counter medications, ice and rest. A tennis elbow strap helps to relieve pressure on the tendon and is often available for purchase at pharmacies, with no prescription required. If these measures do not work, treatment options include physical therapy, injections or surgery. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.