What Tennis Elbow Is — The Ultimate Guide

Hey readers — Tennis Elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis, Decoded!

Tennis elbow, medically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common ailment that affects the elbow joint. It’s characterized by pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow, which can make everyday activities like lifting objects or shaking hands uncomfortable.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of tennis elbow, exploring its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and prevention strategies. So, get ready to serve up some knowledge and conquer this pesky condition!

What Causes Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is primarily caused by overuse of the forearm muscles that extend and rotate the wrist. These muscles attach to the lateral epicondyle, the bony prominence on the outer elbow. When these muscles are overworked, they can become inflamed and cause pain.

Activities that involve repetitive wrist extension or supination, such as playing tennis, painting, carpentry, and lifting heavy objects, can increase the risk of developing tennis elbow.

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

The hallmark symptom of tennis elbow is pain and tenderness on the outer elbow, which worsens with activities that involve wrist extension or supination. Other symptoms may include:

  • Stiffness and swelling in the elbow joint
  • Weakness in the forearm
  • Numbness or tingling in the forearm or hand
  • Inability to grip or lift objects
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Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing tennis elbow typically involves a physical examination and a review of the patient’s symptoms and medical history. Imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRIs, may be ordered to rule out other underlying conditions.

Treatment for tennis elbow aims to reduce pain and inflammation and promote healing. Options include:

Rest and Immobilization

Resting the affected elbow and limiting activities that aggravate the pain can help reduce inflammation and allow the muscles to heal. A tennis elbow brace or splint can provide additional support and immobilization.

Physical Therapy

Exercises that stretch and strengthen the forearm muscles can improve range of motion, reduce pain, and prevent recurrence. A physical therapist can guide patients through these exercises and develop a personalized rehabilitation program.

Corticosteroid Injections

Injections of corticosteroids can provide quick pain relief, but they should be used sparingly as repeated injections can weaken the tendon.


Surgery is rarely necessary for tennis elbow. It may be considered if conservative treatments fail to relieve pain and improve function.

Prevention of Tennis Elbow

Preventing tennis elbow is crucial, especially for individuals involved in activities that put stress on the forearm muscles. Here are some tips:

  • Use proper technique when performing wrist extension or supination exercises
  • Warm up before engaging in strenuous activities
  • Take breaks during repetitive tasks
  • Strengthen the forearm muscles with exercises like wrist curls and reverse wrist curls
  • Use elbow braces or splints for support during high-impact activities

Table: Comparison of Tennis Elbow Treatment Options

Treatment Option Pros Cons
Rest and Immobilization Non-invasive, cost-effective Can be inconvenient, may delay healing
Physical Therapy Improves flexibility and strength, reduces pain Requires time and commitment
Corticosteroid Injections Quick pain relief Repeated injections can weaken the tendon
Surgery Effective in severe cases Invasive, requires recovery time
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Tennis elbow is a common condition that can be effectively managed with a combination of rest, physical therapy, and other treatments. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, you can regain full use of your elbow and keep swinging for the win!

For more articles on sports injuries and rehabilitation, check out our other resources:

  • [What is Golfer’s Elbow?]
  • [How to Prevent Shin Splints]
  • [Recovering from a Torn ACL]

Additional info about Tennis Elbow

What causes Tennis elbow?

  • Overuse of the forearm muscles, especially during activities that involve repetitive wrist extension or supination (rotating the palm upward).

What are the symptoms of Tennis elbow?

  • Pain and tenderness on the outer elbow (lateral epicondyle)
  • Pain that worsens with grasping, lifting, or twisting motions
  • Stiffness and loss of grip strength

What is the treatment for Tennis elbow?

  • Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE)
  • Physical therapy to strengthen and stretch the forearm muscles
  • Medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Injections of corticosteroids or platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
  • Surgery, in severe cases

How long does Tennis elbow take to heal?

  • The healing time varies, but most people experience significant improvement within a few weeks or months with conservative treatment.

How can I prevent Tennis elbow?

  • Use proper technique when performing activities that involve wrist extension or supination
  • Warm up before exercising and cool down afterward
  • Strengthen the forearm muscles with exercises such as wrist curls and reverse wrist curls

What are the risk factors for Tennis elbow?

  • Occupations that involve repetitive hand and arm movements
  • Sports that involve racquet use (tennis, golf)
  • Age (people over 40 are more likely to develop Tennis elbow)
  • Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and thyroid disease
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Is Tennis elbow serious?

  • Tennis elbow is generally not a serious condition, but it can be painful and limit daily activities if left untreated.

What is the difference between Tennis elbow and Golfer’s elbow?

  • Tennis elbow affects the outer elbow, while Golfer’s elbow affects the inner elbow.

Can I play sports with Tennis elbow?

  • You may be able to play sports with Tennis elbow, but it is important to listen to your body and avoid activities that worsen the pain.