©2018 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Information.

Symptoms and Signs of Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Doctor's Notes on Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Tennis elbow is medically known as lateral epicondylitis. It is caused by inflammation of the tendon that attaches muscle to the bony projection (called the epicondyle) on the outside of the elbow. While it occurs in some people who play racquet sports, other activities are associated with the development of tennis elbow as well. For example, job activities that involve frequent use of the forearm muscles, such as meat cutting, painting, plumbing, or weaving are also associated with the development of tennis elbow. 

Associated symptoms of tennis elbow include mild pain that is worsened by pressing on the affected area and by lifting objects, particularly with extension of the wrist. The pain may worsen with time and in severe cases, even small movements of the elbow joint may cause pain.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) Symptoms

  • Tenderness on the outside of the elbow
  • Morning stiffness of the elbow with persistent aching
  • Soreness of the forearm muscles
  • Elbow pain is worse when grasping or holding an object

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) Causes

  • Any repetitive motion of the wrist, including tennis, hedge clipping, excessive use of a hammer or screwdriver, painting, or any activity that requires excessive constant gripping or squeezing can cause tennis elbow.
  • In the game of tennis, the following maneuvers can lead to tennis elbow:
    • One-handed backhand with poor form or technique
    • A late forehand swing resulting in bending the wrist significantly
    • Snapping and turning the wrist while serving with full power

Sports Injuries Types, Treatments, and Prevention Slideshow

Sports Injuries Types, Treatments, and Prevention Slideshow

Sports injuries are injuries that occur when engaging in sports or exercise. Sports injuries can occur due to overtraining, lack of conditioning, and improper form or technique. Failing to warm up increases the risk of sports injuries. Bruises, strains, sprains, tears, and broken bones can result from sports injuries. Soft tissues like muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, and bursae may be affected. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is another potential type of sports injury.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.