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‘Tennis elbow’ is caused by a physical strain. Of course, a strenuous game of tennis can be the cause, but it can also be caused by any one of a number of activities. People who are continually gripping and twisting – carpenters and plasterers, for instance – are particularly prone to this painful condition.
The medical name for tennis elbow is ‘lateral epicondylitis’. The lateral epicondyle is the bony part you can feel on the outside of your elbow joint. It is outside the joint and so is unaffected by arthritis or deformity, but it is often prominent, especially in thinner people, and consequently it can easily be knocked, which causes soreness and bruising.
A similar condition to tennis elbow can occur on the medial (inside) epicondyle, commonly known as the ‘funny-bone’. This has been called ‘golfer’s elbow’, although, again, it is by no means confined to those who play golf.
What is the cause?
Tennis elbow usually arises when the tendons coming from the muscle of the forearm become inflamed at the point where they join the epicondyle. Although it is painful it is not damaging, and there are usually no long-term effects.
This condition can be readily diagnosed without the need of investigations. It can usually be treated by a GP without the need to go to hospital.
Author: DAVID P JOHNSON
MB ChB FRCS FRCS. MD
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon
© OrthopaedicsOpinionOnline 2011 © D P Johnson 2008 www.OrthopaedicOpinionOnline.co.uk
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