Tennis elbow is a degenerative condition of the tendon fibers that attach on the bony prominence (epicondyle) on the outside (lateral side) of the elbow. The tendons involved are responsible for anchoring the muscles that extend or lift the wrist and hand. Chronic overuse leads to tendon degeneration, which is painful. Tennis elbow happens mostly in patients between 30 years and 50 years of age. It can occur in any age group. It can affect as many as half of athletes in racquet sports. However, most patients with tennis elbow are not active in racquet sports. Most of the time, there is not a specific traumatic injury before symptoms start. Many individuals with tennis elbow are involved in work or recreational activities that require repetitive and vigorous use of the forearm muscle. Some common activities that lead to epicondylitis include:
- Recreational: Tennis (ground strokes), racquetball, squash, fencing
- Occupational: Meat cutting, plumbing, painting, raking, weaving
However, some patients develop tennis elbow without any specific recognizable activity leading to symptoms.