What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is condition where there is tenderness, soreness or pain in the outer (lateral) aspect of elbow. Tennis elbow is actually lateral epicondylitis (inflammation of lateral epicondyle of elbow joint), and it is also known as shooter’s elbow, archer’s elbow. There are various names for tennis elbow, because the actual pathogenesis of the disease is still not known.

What are the causes of tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow does not mean that it is caused by playing tennis only, but it can be caused by playing various other sports where rackets or bats are used (such as tennis, badminton, baseball, cricket etc.). Tennis elbow can also be caused by various other sports activities such as climbing, swimming, playing guitar as well as while doing daily routine activities. Tennis elbow usually occurs because of overuse or over activities, which involves repeated twisting movements of hands.

Tennis elbow occurs at the common extensor tendon (part of the muscle that attaches to a bone is called a tendon), which originates from lateral epicondyle of the elbow (lateral aspect of elbow). When muscles of lateral aspect of arm and forearm are used repeatedly and excessively (as in playing tennis, especially while playing backhand), tennis elbow can occur.

Previously it was thought that tennis elbow is mainly caused by overuse of muscles that originates from lateral epicondyle of elbow. However various studies indicate that trauma (such as sudden injury, forceful extension of elbow, forceful and sudden pull etc.) may be a causative factor.

What are the symptoms of tennis elbow?

Symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Pain on outer (lateral) part of elbow (over lateral epicondyle)
  • Tenderness over the lateral epicondyle, which is the most prominent point of elbow on outer side, when elbow is flexed
  • Pain in outer aspect of elbow in gripping or grasping or lifting action/movement as well as pain during movement of wrist
  • Gradual worsening of pain
  • Morning stiffness
  • Pouring of liquid from a container, lifting with the palm down, swiping with a broom, etc. where extension of muscles of arm and forearm are required, especially where wrist movement is required.
  • There may be radiation of pain from elbow to wrist
  • Performing various routine daily activities (such as shaking hands, opening a door using a doorknob, holding a heavy object, grasping something, especially heavy objects) may become difficult

Tennis elbow most commonly occurs on the right elbow, because (may be) most people including sports-persons are right handed.

 

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