Tennis elbow is a general term for Lateral Epicondylitis, pain arising from outer side of elbow. This condition is not just limited to tennis players but can be seen in other racquet sports and activities such as typing, painting or plumbing. It is an overuse injury which gets worse over time if neglected. Onset of symptoms can be sudden but majority have a gradual pattern. The area affected is around the lateral epicondyle (outer bony prominence of elbow), from where majority of the forearm muscles originate.
Increase in load or duration of repetitive activities, involving wrist and forearm muscles can lead to micro tears/inflammation (tendinosis) of tendons. Prolonged typing, using screwdriver, racquet sports, painting are common examples where forearm muscles are used repetitively for prolonged duration. Initial symptoms can be pain, tenderness or feeling of tightness on the outer elbow. As the condition worsens, pain becomes more or less constant and gripping becomes weak.
Similar condition but occurring at inner side of elbow is called as Golfer’s elbow or Medial epicondylitis. Symptoms would be around inner bony prominence of elbow (medial epicondyle).
- Activities involving repetitive use of wrist, e.g. typing and racquet sports.
- Weak and tight forearm muscles
- Poor sporting/work technique
- Equipment fault – grip size of racquet or cricket bat or change in string tension of racquet
- Poor workplace setup
- Increase elbow joint stiffness