Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ


I woke up one day with elbow pain that wouldn't quit. The doctor tells me it's "tennis elbow." No one seems to know what caused it. Is this common?


"Tennis elbow" is also known as lateral epicondylitis. It's most commonly seen in industrial workers. Repeated wrist or arm motions can bring it on. In others, it comes on without warning and with no known cause.

About one-third of all patients with tennis elbow can't identify a cause or reason for their symptoms. Sometimes there's a reason but the patient doesn't connect the activity with the symptoms. It could be a motion repeated over and over at work. It could be related to leisure or sports activities.

Scientists don't really know what brings this problem on. If it is just linked with overuse, then why doesn't everyone using that motion or doing the same job develop the problem? More research is needed to answer these questions before the problem is solved.

Joshua A. Cleland, DPT, OCS, et al. Effectiveness of Manual Physical Therapy to the Cervical Spine in the Management of Lateral Epicondylalgia: A Retrospective Analysis. In Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. November 2004. Vol. 34. No. 11. Pp. 713-724.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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