Tennis Elbow (cont.)

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What are risk factors for tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is an overuse injury, so risk factors for tennis elbow are any repetitive activities that stress the forearm tendons. Examples include playing tennis, hitting backhand shots, and gardening, although a wide variety of recreational and occupational activities can stress these tendons. The condition is more common in patients in their 40s and 50s because tendon degeneration occurs with age. Smoking and obesity are also risk factors.

What are tennis elbow symptoms and signs?

Tennis elbow causes elbow pain. Tenderness on the bony prominence on the outer aspect of the elbow (lateral epicondyle) is the most common sign of tennis elbow. Pain may occur during handshakes, lifting a briefcase or bag of groceries, or similar activities that stress the tendons in the forearm. The pain may begin suddenly or gradually and may spread down the forearm. There may be weakness in the forearm. Typically, the range of motion of the elbow joint is not impaired by tennis elbow. Numbness and tingling suggest a nerve problem that can mimic tennis elbow and should be evaluated by a health-care professional.

How is tennis elbow diagnosed?

Tennis elbow is a clinical diagnosis. This means a health care professional can make the diagnosis based on typical symptoms and by examining the elbow. The health-care professional may palpate the bony prominence on the outside of the elbow (lateral epicondyle) and the muscles in the forearm for tenderness. Other physical exam tests for tennis elbow are asking the patient to extend their wrist against resistance while the elbow is straight. In people with tennis elbow, this maneuver often reproduces pain at the outer elbow. X-rays do not show abnormalities with tennis elbow but may be helpful to exclude other problems such as bone fractures from trauma.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/24/2013

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