CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
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Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is an overuse and muscle strain injury. The cause is repeated contraction of the forearm muscles that you use to straighten and raise your hand and wrist. The repeated motions and stress to the tissue may result in inflammation or a series of tiny tears in the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the bony prominence at the outside of your elbow (lateral epicondyle).
As the name suggests, playing tennis — especially repeated use of the backhand stroke with poor technique — is one possible cause of tennis elbow. However, many other common arm motions can cause tennis elbow, including:
- Using plumbing tools
- Driving screws
- Cutting up cooking ingredients, particularly meat
- Excessive computer mouse use
- Regan WD, et al. Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). In: DeLee JC, et al. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/book/player/book.do?method=display&type=bookPage&decorator=header&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-3143-7..00019-1--sc2&displayedEid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-3143-7..00019-1--s0145&uniq=213936826&isbn=978-1-4160-3143-7&sid=1037052489. Accessed Aug. 10, 2010.
- Jayanthi N. Epicondylitis (tennis and golf elbow). http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 10, 2010.
- Miller RH, et al. Lateral epicondylitis. In: Canale ST, et al. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/214290188-3/1038084588/1584/342.html#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-03329-9..50047-7--cesec53_2420. Accessed Aug. 12, 2010.
- Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00068. Accessed Aug. 10, 2010.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed Aug. 12, 2010.