Tennis elbow is a common injury. The medical term for a tennis elbow injury is lateral epicondylitis. Lateral epicondylitis falls into the category of Repetitive Stress Injuries. Tennis elbow injury occurs when the ligaments are strained in with a movement being repeated again and again. An example of this repetitive stress could be poor backhand technique using the wrist rather than the arm to hit the ball. This repetitive stress creates many small tears in the tendons.
These tears happen because the tendons do not stretch. Repeated stress strains the tendon causing it to fray in a similar way that a rope frays. The body adapts to these tiny tears with the creation of scar tissue. This scar tissue may build up and create a bumpy or irregular surface that may aggravate the tendon sheath.
Even through the condition is called 'tennis elbow', lateral epicondylitis may be caused by many different movements:
While tennis elbow injury is most commonly a result of repetitive stress, it may also result from a more explosive sudden movement leading too much larger tears in the connective tissue.
The muscles on the top of the forearm are used in all movements that:
The most dangerous movements leading to tennis elbow injury are movements that require a lot of force in the above movements. Here is a list of the most dangerous movements leading to tennis elbow injury. ( listed from most dangerous to least dangerous )
All of the above movements are more dangerous when they are performed with the arm extended to the front or the side. When the arm is straight there is tendons and ligaments are already under tension. This makes the tendons absorb all the stress.
Occasionally, lateral epicondylitis may be the result of more indirect causes. These may include:
Pain in the outer elbow is good indication of a tennis elbow injury. The pain may be an aching deep in the elbow located near the bony protrusion on the outside of the elbow called the lateral epicondyle. The area will usually be tender to the touch and may feel warm.
The pain may be sharp during movement while moving the elbow or lifting an object with the hand on top.
Lateral epicondylitis injury may also result in weakness in movements involving the wrist. A medical doctor or therapist will usually test for tennis elbow by squeezing the elbow near the epicondyle. A second test is to provide resistance while the patient bends the wrist back.
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