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What is Tennis Elbow?

| February 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

You don’t have to be a tennis player to develop tennis elbow. Also known as lateral epicondylosis, this condition is the most common cause of elbow pain in adults.

tennis elbowTennis elbow originates from the common extensor tendon and occurs from accumulation of microtrauma from repetitive stress, resulting in tendinosis. Repeated micro-tearing can result in degeneration, and even tears within the muscle.  The muscles that join into the common extensor tendon are the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB), part of the tendon that is most often affected; Extensor Digitorum Communis (EDC); and Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU).

Risk factors for tennis elbow include faulty techniques with racquet sports; overexertion; repeated wrist extension; forearm supination (rotation of the arm outward); and pronation (turning the hand up and down).

For acute pain, ice and anti-inflammatory medication is helpful. A counterforce brace may also be beneficial. Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation (TENS) and ultrasound also relieve pain and may speed up the healing process.

Once the acute pain is decreased, a gentle stretching program can begin followed by strengthening of the affected tendon.  Modifying activity techniques, like changing the way you swing a racquet or a hammer, is also important to prevent the symptoms from returning.

Approximately 80% of patients with tennis elbow report improvement within one year.


If you have any tips, stories or experiences concerning pain management, physiatry, physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), or methods you have used to prevent injuries, we would like to hear them and perhaps add them to our upcoming ebook – Lessons From Physiatry. For more details, log on to

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Category: Injuries

Christopher Burton, M.D.

About the Author ()

Christopher Burton, M.D. is a physician, speaker, coach and trainer, practicing in Pensacola, FL. He specialized in Physiatry - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), which is the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of conditions - particularly those of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems - that may produce temporary or permanent impairment of function. In addition to his practice, he actively lectures on health, nutrition and exercise for healthcare groups, colleges, schools and travels internationally discussing treatment and rehabilitation of athletes.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Burton you can view his personal website at:

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