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Elbow Tendinitis / Tendonitis Injuries – How Do You Get Arm Pain?

Elbow Tendinitis / Elbow Tendonitis Injuries

Tennis Elbow Tendinitis and Tennis Elbow Tendonitis – What is the Difference?

Tendinitis or Tendonitis are alternative spellings of the same condition. The -itis part means inflammation so the term tendonitis means inflammation of a tendon.
In medicine and medical textbooks you are more likely to see Tendinitis than Tendonitis although they are interchangeable.
However in Tennis Elbow Tendinitis there is generally no inflammation present and the more correct term is Tendinosis or Tendinopathy!

Tennis Elbow Tendonitis / Tendinitis Causes

Changes in the tendon are caused by repetitive movements or overuse of the muscle and tendon unit. Any activity that involves forceful gripping and / or quick repeated movements of the hand can lead to these changes and Tennis Elbow Tendonitis injuries and symptoms.


As I explained in Tennis Elbow Injury and Tennis Elbow Symptoms Tennis Elbow Tendonitis or Lateral Epicondylitis is pain in the outer aspect of your elbow and forearm and is generally not inflammatory but consists of degenerative changes in the structure of the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB) or “Tennis Elbow Tendon.”

Taking part in a new activity which uses your arm, or doing more than usual of an activity can cause Tennis Elbow arm pain. Common examples are:

  • tennis and racquet sports
  • painting and decorating
  • using handtools – saw, screwdriver, hammer etc
  • using powertools – drills, sanders etc
  • using a keyboard or mouse
  • watersports involving gripping – waterskiing, sailboarding etc
  • prolonged intricate movements of the hand – sewing, scissors, using a knife etc
  • playing with the Wii games console too long


Wrist Extension Causes Tennis Elbow Injury

If I stick with tennis for the moment. Between 40 and 50% of all tennis players have experienced Tennis Elbow Tendonitis pain at least once, and for many it can persist for a long time and affect their participation in their sport.
Gripping any object involves extending the wrist (see picture above).
Resisting movements that cause the wrist to flex away from this extended position produce stress in the muscle and tendon and cause arm pain.
The classic example is a single-handed backhand in tennis – look at the forces involved in trying to ‘break’ the wrist in this picture.
These forces depend on various factors such as ball speed, speed of the racket, racket size, string stiffness, off-center impact and hand grip force.
Eccentric contraction forces in ECRB at ball impact are increased by bending the wrist and having low muscle activation.
This is exactly what is found in novice tennis players who are more prone to Tennis Elbow Tendonitis probably due to poor technique (and incorrect muscle activation) with the backhand and service strokes. It is this lack of correct muscle activation that results in increased force transmission to the ECRB tendon (lateral epicondylitis muscles) and can lead to microtrauma and degeneration in the tendon (acute Tennis Elbow).

DIY Causes of Tennis Elbow Arm Pain

Again gripping too tightly and trying to get too much done especially when your are not accustomed to doing the task for a long period can lead to overuse of the ECRB tendon and tennis elbow tendinitis pain.

When you use any tool (power tool or hand tool) you need to keep control of where it is pointing and absorb any vibrations – this is done at the wrist.
Using a screwdriver involves supination and pronation movements of the forearm while maintaining an extended wrist which stresses the wrist extensors.
Using a paint brush can involve thousands of repeated flexion / extension movements at the wrist if you are inexperienced and use bad technique and this leads to overuse Tennis Elbow arm pain.

Mouse & Keyboard and Tennis Elbow PC Pain

Prolonged use of a keyboard and / or mouse can lead to Tennis Elbow injuries. This is especially true if the keyboard or mouse is not set up for ‘ergonomic’ use. If the position of the keyboard or mouse means that the wrists are extended or flexed for any period of time then this leads to an increased stress on the forearm tendons at the elbow and produces Elbow Tendinitis pain.
In the same way, reaching out for the mouse or the keyboard can also cause arm pain.
Adjust the height of your keyboard so that you keep your forearms parallel to the floor.

Wii and Tennis Elbow Tendonitis

see my article


There is no substitute for good technique – get a good coach!
Do not grip too tightly!
Learn how to use the tools properly!

Have you taken my Extensive Professional Tennis Elbow Self-Assessment Tool?
Find out

  • what type of Tennis Elbow Lateral Epicondylitis do you have
  • if you are doing the correct exercises
  • what underlying problems are stopping your elbow from getting better
  • if your neck is causing the problem
  • and many more things…..

Take the FULL ASSESSMENT at Tenis Elbow Assessment

Back to Tennis Elbow Top 10 Questions

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    Great article…I’ve bookmarked this page.

    I suffered from tennis elbow for many months. My doctor recommended a cortisone shot, it worked for maybe 4 weeks and then the pain came back again. Whatever you do, don’t get a cortisone shot, you think you’re cured, you go back to normal activities and then you’re back at square one again.

    Also, I found out that there are dangers to getting cortisone shots as well. There is a post on why you shouldn’t get a cortisone shot…cortisone shots dangerous for tennis elbow treatment

    Stay healthy,

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