Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in your elbow are overloaded, usually by repetitive wrist and arm motions.

People whose jobs feature the types of motions that can lead to tennis elbow include plumbers, painters, carpenters, butchers and of course tennis players.

The pain of tennis elbow occurs primarily where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of the elbow. Pain can also spread into the forearm and wrist. The pain associated with tennis elbow may radiate from the outside of the elbow into the forearm and wrist. Pain and weakness may make it difficult to:

Shake hands or grip an object
Turn a doorknob
Hold a coffee cup


Tennis elbow is an overuse and muscle strain injury. The cause is repeated contraction of the forearm muscles that you use to straighten and raise your hand and wrist. The repeated motions and stress to the tissue may result in a series of tiny tears in the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the bony prominence at the outside of your elbow.

As the name suggests, playing tennis — especially repeated use of the backhand stroke with poor technique — is one possible cause of tennis elbow. However, many other common arm motions can cause tennis elbow, including:

Using plumbing tools
Driving screws
Cutting up cooking ingredients, particularly meat
Repetitive computer mouse use

We treat tennis elbow problems with massage therapy, osteopathy, and acupuncture.