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Epicondylitis or tennis elbowis an inflammation of several structures of the elbow. These include muscles, tendons, bursa, periosteum, and epicondyle (bony projections on the outside and inside of the elbow, where muscles of the forearm attach to the bone of the upper arm).

Description of Epicondylitis

The classic Epicondylitis or tennis elbowis caused by repeated forceful contractions of wrist muscles located on the outer forearm. The stress, created at a common muscle origin, causes microscopic tears leading to inflammation. This is a relatively small surface area located at the outer portion of the elbow (the lateral epicondyle). Medial tennis elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is caused by forceful, repetitive contractions from muscles located on the inside of the forearm. All of the forearm muscles are involved in tennis serves, when combined motions of the elbow and wrist are employed. This overuse injury is common between ages 20-40.


People at risk for Epicondylitis or tennis elboware those in occupations that require strenuous or repetitive forearm movement. Such jobs include mechanics or carpentry. Sport activities that require individuals to twist the hand, wrist, and forearm, such as tennis, throwing a ball, bowling, golfing, and skiing, can cause tennis elbow. Individuals in poor physical condition, who are exposed to repetitive wrist and forearm movements for long periods of time, may be prone to tennis elbow. This condition is also called epicondylitis, lateral epicondylitis, medial epicondylitis, or golfer's elbow, where pain is present at the inside epicondyle.

Causes & symptoms of Epicondylitis

Epicondylitis or tennis elbowpain originates from a partial tear of the tendon and the attached covering of the bone. It is caused by chronic stress on tissues attaching forearm muscles to the elbow area. Individuals experiencing Epicondylitis or tennis elbowmay complain of pain and tenderness over either of the two epicondyles. This pain increases with gripping or rotation of the wrist and forearm. If the condition becomes long-standing and chronic, a decrease in grip strength can develop.


Diagnosis of Epicondylitis or tennis elbowincludes the individual observation and recall of symptoms, a thorough medical history, and physical examination by a physician. Diagnostic testing is usually not necessary unless there may be evidence of nerve involvement from underlying causes. X rays are usually always negative because the condition is primarily soft tissue in nature, in contrast to a bony disorder.


This web site is intended for your own informational purposes only. No person or entity associated with this web site purports to be engaging in the practice of medicine through this medium. The information you receive is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other health care professional. If you have an illness or medical problem, contact your health care provider.


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