The term “tennis elbow” is used to describe localized pain over the bony prominence, called the lateral epicondyle, on the outside of the elbow.
Tennis elbow is caused by repetitive stress on the muscles connected to the lateral epicondyle, which results in microtears causing inflammation and pain. It is particularly common in tennis players because of the side-side-side motion required to swing a racket, combined with the repetitive impact of hitting the ball.
This pain generally increases with any activity that requires contraction of these muscles, like shaking hands or turning doorknobs. There are no special tests to diagnose tennis elbow, so your orthopaedic surgeon will most likely rely upon your history and a physical exam, although x-rays can sometimes be helpful.
There is no surefire treatment for tennis elbow, but your orthopaedic surgeon can recommend stretching and strengthening exercises that should help. You can prevent tennis elbow by following some simple tips, recommended by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:
1. Warm up well before you play.
2. Choose appropriate equipment and maintain it properly.
3. Condition for the activity you are going to engage in by stretching and strengthening all of the muscles your sport will use.
4. Evaluate your play techniques to be sure you are not irritating this condition.