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Lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as “tennis elbow,” is an inflammation of the tendon fibers that attach the forearm extensor muscles to the outside of the elbow. These muscles lift the wrist and hand. Pain is felt where these fibers attach to the bone on the outside of the elbow or along the muscles in the forearm. Pain is usually more noticeable during or after stressful use of the arm. In severe cases, lifting and grasping even light things may be painful. Because people who play tennis or other racquet sports sometimes develop this problem from improper playing technique, it has become known as “tennis elbow.” Medial epicondylitis or “golfers elbow” is a similar condition that occurs on the inside of the elbow.
Routine use of the arm or an injury to this area may stress or damage the muscle attachment and cause epicondylitis symptoms. Generally, people who develop this problem may be involved in activities with motion of the wrist and arm or lifting with the palm side of the hand facing down.
The area of most pain is usually found near the bone on the outer side of the elbow known as the lateral epicondyle. This area is usually tender when touched and may be uncomfortable when gripping. In severe cases, almost any elbow movement can be uncomfortable.