Lateral Epicondylitis Pain

Tennis Elbow: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Tennis elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis is a very common injury that results from overuse, injury, or strain of the tendon that attaches the forearm muscles to the boney part of the outside of the elbow. Called tennis elbow because tennis players are prone to getting it (50% of tennis players may have this condition), this medical condition is not limited to tennis players. Tennis elbow can occur with any activity that involves repetitive gripping, turning, bending, or extending the wrist backwards.

Symptoms of a Tennis Elbow

The outer part of the elbow is rather painful and tender to touch. Movements of the elbow, and also movements, that involve lifting, with the hand on top, hurt real bad. Any sport, from badminton, to tennis, to golf involves both the massive movement of the wrist and the complete arm. The elbow is one such part which is most often neglected and once affected takes a rather long time to heal.

Tennis elbow appears in different ways. Some people get symptoms after doing the same type of work for several years. While others get the symptoms suddenly soon after starting a new type of work. The main symptom of tennis elbow is the pain on the outside of the elbow. The pain gets aggravated with the movements involving grasping and holding objects. The damage caused by tennis elbow consists of tiny tears in tendon parts and in muscle coverings. Even after the healing of injury, these areas remain susceptible to tear again that leads to hemorrhage and calcium deposits within the surrounding tissues.


Although the condition is called tennis/golfers elbow there are many causes. Generally damage is done at the point the forearm tendon is anchored to the upper arm bone (humerous) by shock travelling up the arm whist gripping something tightly, for example using a hammer or playing tennis. The result is small tears in the tendon at the anchor point and inflammation occurs. As the forearm muscles are in continual tension due to the opposing action needed by the hand for gripping, the tendon inflammation (tendinitis) has little chance to heal.

Tennis elbow is caused by overuse, strain or injury to the tendon that attaches to the bone on the outside of the elbow (lateral epicondyle). This tendon is attached to the muscle that bends the hand backwards from the wrist. This results in tiny, microscopic tears in the tendon that causes inflammation and pain in the tendon.


Rest: This is normally the first thing suggested. If you have a job that involves use of your hands this simple advice could be quite difficult to follow. However if it is possible, it can be effective.

An injection of a steroid into the painful area of the elbow often eases the pain. For some people, the pain never returns after having a steroid injection. However, for others, the relief from pain is only for a short time – perhaps for a few weeks. Also, it is worth bearing in mind the long term outlook before deciding on trying a steroid injection. A large research study looked at long term outlook. It compared those who had a steroid injection with those who did not. In this study, although about 9 in 10 of those who had a steroid injection had good short term pain relief, after one year only about 7 in 10 were free of pain. This compared to about 8 in 10 who were free of pain after one year who had not had a steroid injection.

By: James Sameul

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