What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is a type of tendonitis that is caused by repetitive use/over-use of forearm muscles. It is also known as lateral epicondylitis. Despite the name, most of the people who suffer from this condition don’t even play tennis.

Risk factors of Tennis Elbow

Factors that heighten the risk of tennis elbow include:

Occupation: People whose occupation involves repetitive arm and wrist motions have high chances of developing tennis elbow e.g. butchers, carpenters, chefs/cooks, painters and plumbers.

Age: Tennis elbow can affect any age group but is most common in adults aged 30-50.

Sporting Activities: Participating in certain sports particularly where the use of a racket or bat is involved e.g. baseball, cricket and tennis. The risk is elevated when poor stroke techniques are used.

Signs and Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

  • General pain on the outer part of the elbow
  • Difficulty in extending the forearm fully
  • Pain when bending or lifting the arm
  • Weakness in the wrist
  • Pain when carrying, gripping or lifting objects
  • Tenderness on the outer part of the elbow

Causes of Tennis Elbow

When a person repeatedly contracts the forearm muscles and tendons used to raise and straighten the hand and wrist, the tendons and forearm muscles become stressed resulting in a series of tiny tears. This leads to tenderness on the outer part of the elbow and in particular the epicondyle. The epicondyle is a projection located on a bone above a condyle (round bump on a bone where it joins to another bone) that acts as an attachment for ligaments and muscles.

As a result, the tendons become inflamed. The pain can gradually spread into the wrist and forearm. This is because, the common extensor tendon located on the outer part of the elbow forms part of the muscles that bend the wrist into extension.