Tennis Elbow: Causes And Symptoms

Tennis elbow is a painful condition that is caused by tendons that start to weaken. These are the tendons that join the muscles in the forearm to the bones. This condition generally occurs when the elbow has been worked too much (repeating a certain motion).

Despite the name, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) is rarely caused by playing tennis. It is possible to get lateral epicondylitis after many types of repetitive movements such as using a hand tool or even painting. This is one of those common injuries that only require minor treatment. It does need rest and time to heal.

Does Tennis Elbow Cause Pain

Tennis elbow is usually associated with pain around the outside part of the arm, where the elbow and the forearm meet. The condition relates to the tendons and muscles present in the forearm. The tendons are what connect the muscles to the bones.

When repeating specific arm movements, these tendons in the ECRB (extensor carpi radialis brevis), may experience small tears. These tears cause stress to the other parts of the arm, which makes it painful and uncomfortable to grip and lift things. Without treatment, this type of pain lasts for a long time.

Tennis Elbow: Symptoms

The main tennis elbow symptom is a painful ache around the outside area of the elbow. Over the next few weeks onto a month or two, this ache starts to become a consistent and throbbing pain. The outside area of the elbow can also become very painful to the touch.

Tennis Elbow: Causes

Tennis elbow currently affects around 3% of people, generally between the age of 30 and 50. Any activity type that causes strain to the muscles that surround the elbow can result in a tennis elbow.

When playing tennis, hitting backhands places stress on the forearm muscles, that clench as the person hits the ball. If the technique is not right, or the player is gripping their racquet very tightly, this places even more stress on the muscles and tendons connecting the elbow to the forearm muscle. This is what causes tears in the tendons.

It is also possible to get tennis elbow from activities or jobs involving repetitive arm motions. Here are a few examples:

  • Using a chain-saw to cut down trees
  • Carpentry
  • Painting
  • Playing certain musical instruments
  • Working on a car
  • Plumbing

Direct blows to the area of the elbow can also cause the tendons in this area to swell.

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