Tennis Elbow Overview & Information

Tennis Elbow Information

Fifty percent of all tennis players will personally feel the pain and weakness that is associated with tennis elbow. Tennis players are not the only ones that suffer from tennis elbow. In the medical community, tennis elbow is known as epitrochlear bursitis, lateral epicondylitis, and epicondylitis-lateral. The cause of the pain and weakness is repeated stress that creates tiny tears in the muscles at the point of attachment on the outside of the elbow. Besides using a racquet the repetitive nature of typing, using a screwdriver, or using a hammer may cause tennis elbow. Sudden stress to the muscle can also cause the same injury. The injury commonly happens because of a backhand stroke with poor technique when using a racquet.

Ideally, steps should be taken to prevent tennis elbow. Symptoms of tennis elbow occur when prevention is unsuccessful or no preventive measures are taken. There are no tests to identify tennis elbow so the diagnosis is made by identifying the symptoms. Home treatments should be tried first and if unsuccessful, a healthcare professional should be consulted. A small percentage of tennis players who develop tennis elbow will need surgery to relieve pain and regain strength. There are steps a tennis player can take to reduce the risk of reoccurrence of tennis elbow.

Who Develops Tennis Elbow?

  • Tennis players
  • Computer/keyboard users
  • Carpenters
  • Racquet ball players
  • Gardeners
  • Beauticians
  • Plumbers
  • Brick layers
  • Swimmers
  • Golfers (in addition to developing golfer’s elbow)

Preventing Tennis Elbow

Tennis Elbow Brace

Preventing tennis elbow can be done by preparing to play, lifting properly, using an elbow band, and using the proper racquet. One way to prevent this injury is by stretching and strengthening exercises. Developing a strong backhand stroke with proper technique will help. When lifting, position hands so that the palms face you body. Using a band around the forearm just below the elbow will provide the support needed to prevent tennis elbow. A well designed band will not interfere with circulation and will promote healing. Using the correct racquet will pay off by aiding in preventing tennis elbow. Using a racquet that does not require the forearm to exert excessive force will help prevent tennis elbow. A racquet that has a smaller head and strings at the appropriate tightness will keep the forearm from being over-worked and tennis elbow developing. The grip size should match the hand size. Taking the time for prevention will keep tennis elbow from interfering with tennis playing time.

When there are no steps taken to prevent tennis elbow or preventive measures fail, tennis elbow symptoms will begin to show.

Tennis Elbow Symptoms:

  • Pain on outside of the elbow
  • Pain when the fingers and wrist are straightened out
  • Pain when lifting even light objects like a cup
  • Outside elbow tenderness to touch
  • Pain when making a fist
  • When opening the hand against resistance there is pain
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Pain may be consistent or sporadic

A tennis elbow diagnosis is based on the symptoms. There are no tennis elbow medical tests to be performed. An x-ray will be normal even in severe tennis elbow cases.

Treating a mild case of tennis elbow can be done at home. For symptoms that don’t improve with home treatments after a couple weeks, an appointment should be made with a medical professional. In severe cases of tennis elbow, medical treatment should be sought as soon as possible. Treating a mild case promptly will keep it from developing into a severe case of tennis elbow. To start out with, cease or change the activity that caused tennis elbow. An ice pack can be used to relieve symptoms. Frozen peas work well because it will follow the contours of the elbow. An arm brace from a sports store or drug store will restrict the movement of the tendon so it can rest and heal. During the healing process, using over the counter anti-inflammatory can give temporary relief of pain. If these treatments aren’t successful, your physician may use the following to treat tennis elbow:

  • Prescription medication
  • Steroid injection
  • Ultrasound treatment
  • Heat
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery (rare)

To prevent reoccurrence of tennis elbow it is wise not to play when pain is present, plan adequate rest in between activities that put you at risk of developing tennis elbow again, and if playing tennis make sure you are using proper backhand technique.

Tennis elbow is easily managed and healed with early treatment.

Tennis Elbow Treatment
Learn how to treat tennis elbow.
Tendonitis Website
All about tendonitis.
Achilles Tendonitis
The most common form of tendonitis.