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What Is The Most Common Cause Of Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow[1] is a painful condition of the elbow caused by overuse of the forearm. It is marked by an inflammation or swelling on the elbow joint due to the damaged tendons joining the forearm and elbow. It is located at the lateral side of the elbow. The pain is felt when the forearm is straightened or extended fully. The causes of pain are overstraining and repetitive stress on the muscles and tendons of the forearm during sports like tennis, racquet, golf, etc. and some professions like carpentry, painting, and many more. It is treated by rest, ice packs, medicines, physiotherapy, steroid injections and many more.

What Is The Most Common Cause Of Tennis Elbow?

What Is The Most Common Cause Of Tennis Elbow?[2-4]

Tennis elbow is a painful disorder of elbow most commonly caused by the overuse of the forearm in activities like weightlifting, swimming or playing a violin and racquet sports. Extreme pain is felt when one tries to straighten the hand or extend them fully.

The elbow joint is connected to the forearm by muscles and tendons. The muscles and tendons are joined to the bones to provide strength and mobility to the forearm. These muscles are mainly extensor muscles of the forearm. The repetitive incorrect action of the wrist can cause small tears in the muscles and tendons of the forearm. It also leads to the inflammation of the tendons and muscles. It is felt when the hand is extended fully or straightened. The pain can also be due to the irritation and the inflammation of the nerves involved in this area.

This condition is called tennis elbow because it is seen mostly in 5% racquet players. It develops in the persons who are involved in the professions where the forearm is used extensively for example weight lifting, painting, playing the violin, carpentry, etc. These activities cause repetitive strain to the muscles and tendons causing damage to them. It usually affects in the middle age between 30 to 50 years.

Tennis elbow can happen in both the hands at a time but it is likely to affect the arm which is used most. Depending on the damage, recovery can occur from 6 months to 2 years without treatment. Relapse of tennis elbow is also common.

The most common cause of tennis elbow is repetitive or strenuous activities of the forearm apart from the sudden injury after banging or knocking the elbow.

The causes of tennis elbow that involve repetitive twisting of the wrist and forearm muscles happening in activities like-[2]

  • Racquet sports like badminton, tennis or squash
  • Throwing sports like discus or javelin
  • Use of paintbrush in painting
  • Use of shears in gardening
  • Manual tasks like plumbing or bricklaying
  • Use of scissors in tailoring or fine works
  • Repetitive bending the elbow like playing the violin

The symptoms of tennis elbow are as follows-[3]

  • Tennis elbows start with mild pain and tenderness over the elbow joint.
  • The pain is felt worse when hands are used to perform any work.
  • Pain radiates from the elbow to the forearm and wrist.
  • The pain gets worse with the time and it becomes so severe that pain is felt even when the forearm is still.
  • Pain is felt worst while:
    • Bending or lifting your arm.
    • Writing or gripping small objects like pen.
    • Holding cup.
    • Twisting the forearm like turning a handle of the door or opening a jar.
    • Extending the arm.
    • Shaking hands.
    • Stiffness in the elbow in the morning.
    • Soreness in the muscles of the forearm.
    • Weakness in the elbow.
    • Numbness and tingling in hand, arm or wrist.

Tennis elbow is diagnosed by simple physical examination. However, X-ray, CT scan or MRI scan can be done to rule out severe damage or injury to the affected elbow. MRI scan is performed to get the details of soft tissues, muscles, and tendons of the arm.[4]


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 15, 2020

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