When Tennis Elbow Gets Worse: A Comprehensive Guide for Sufferers

Hi Readers,

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common condition that affects the outside of the elbow. It is caused by overuse of the muscles that extend the wrist and fingers, and can be extremely painful. In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of tennis elbow, as well as what to do when it gets worse.

Understanding the Progression of Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow typically develops gradually and can progress through several stages, including:

Initial Stage

During the initial stage, you may experience occasional pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow, especially after activities that involve gripping or twisting the wrist. Rest and ice can usually relieve the pain.

Advanced Stage

As the condition worsens, the pain may become more severe and frequent, and you may have difficulty performing everyday tasks that require grip strength. The pain may also spread down the forearm or into the wrist.

Chronic Stage

If left untreated, tennis elbow can become chronic, leading to persistent pain and stiffness. The pain may make it difficult to perform even simple tasks, and it may become more difficult to treat.

Causes of Tennis Elbow Worsening

There are several factors that can contribute to tennis elbow getting worse, including:

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The most common cause of worsening tennis elbow is overuse. Continuing to use the affected muscles without giving them time to rest and recover can put undue stress on the tendons and lead to further inflammation.

Improper Technique

Incorrect technique when performing exercises or activities that involve gripping or twisting the wrist can also aggravate tennis elbow. This can put additional strain on the tendons and lead to pain and inflammation.

Poor Warm-up and Cool-down

Not properly warming up and cooling down before and after activities can increase the risk of developing or worsening tennis elbow. Warming up prepares the muscles for activity, while cooling down helps to reduce inflammation.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you have tennis elbow that is not improving with rest and home care, it is important to seek medical attention. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, or surgery to relieve the pain and improve function.

Table: Symptoms of Worsening Tennis Elbow

Symptom Description
Increased pain Pain that is more severe and frequent, especially with activities that involve gripping or twisting the wrist
Tenderness Increased sensitivity to touch on the outside of the elbow
Stiffness Difficulty moving the elbow or wrist
Weakness Decreased strength in the grip or wrist
Numbness or tingling Numbness or tingling in the fingers or hand
Difficulty with everyday tasks Difficulty performing tasks that require grip strength, such as opening jars or turning doorknobs


Tennis elbow is a common condition that can significantly impact daily life. If you are experiencing symptoms of tennis elbow, it is important to take steps to rest and protect the affected muscles. If the pain and inflammation do not improve with home care, it is important to seek medical attention to prevent further worsening of the condition.

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For more information on tennis elbow and other sports-related injuries, please check out our other articles:

  • [Understanding the Causes and Treatment of Tennis Elbow](link to article)
  • [How to Prevent Tennis Elbow and Other Overuse Injuries](link to article)
  • [Tips for Managing Chronic Tennis Elbow](link to article)

Additional info about when tennis elbow gets worse

When does tennis elbow get worse?

  • Overuse: Continuing to use the affected arm without rest can worsen tennis elbow.
  • Heavy lifting: Lifting heavy objects or performing repetitive gripping motions can strain the tendons and worsen the pain.
  • Poor technique: Using improper technique when playing tennis or performing other activities can put additional stress on the tendons.
  • Lack of warm-up: Not warming up properly before exercising can increase the risk of injury.
  • Underlying medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis, can weaken the tendons and make them more susceptible to damage.
  • Age: As we age, our tendons naturally become weaker and more prone to injury.
  • Smoking: Smoking damages the blood vessels and reduces blood flow to the tendons, which can slow down healing.
  • Obesity: Excess weight puts additional stress on the tendons, increasing the risk of tennis elbow.
  • Dehydration: Dehydration can weaken the tendons and make them more prone to injury.
  • Cold weather: Cold temperatures can stiffen the tendons and make them more susceptible to damage.