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
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.