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Tennis elbow is a repetitive stress syndrome that arises from overuse of the forearm extensor muscles. Also called lateral epicondylitis, this often occurs because of repetitive activity that involves pronation and supination, as well as extension and flexion, of the forearm muscles. This was thought to lead to the formation of microscopic tears in the tendon, at the point where it attaches to the bone. These tears were supposed to be responsible for the pain and difficulty in movement of the affected muscle.
Despite its name, tennis elbow is caused by movements of the forearm in numerous situations other than tennis. Activities which cause tennis elbow include the following:
The basic pathology of tennis elbow involves an imbalance between the forearm muscle strength, and the load put on the forearm muscles. The symptoms of tennis elbow are now thought to be due to the degeneration of chronically injured tendon fibers, rather than inflammation, as has long been thought. Tendon tears are also more rare than expected.
Factors which predispose to this imbalance may include: